SAARISEKA, Finland—Nokian Tyres's latest product upgrades for North America are two additions to the Hakkapeliitta winter tire family—Hakkapeliitta R2 and R2 SUV—and a new tire in the expanding All Weather Plus product line, the WR G3 all-season.
While the winter tires are Nokian's core products—it advertises throughout much of the nordic countries with the slogan, "Trust the natives," when it comes to coping with winter driving—the firm's all-season product line is key to its ability to grow in North America.
The new WR G3 all-season replaces the G2 in Nokian's lineup and is targeted for consumers looking for safe, reliable grip and handling in the varied driving conditions found in the North American market.
It will come in two distinct tread patterns—a directional, symmetric pattern for 14- and 15-inch sizes and an asymmetric pattern for larger sizes. It will be available in a wide range of sizes from 14 to 19 inches in rim diameter and speed ratings from T to V.
It incorporates a number of performance enhancements for improved traction in wet, snow and ice as well as reduced rolling resistance and noise, according to Matti Morri, technical customer service manager, including the use of canola oil/natural rubber compound technology.
Nokian uses canola oil as a catalyst in the cryogenic silane compound developed for low temperatures; it links silica and a "substantially" increased proportion of natural rubber to yield a compound that works effectively across a wide temperature range including wet roads and even black ice.
The WR G3's asymmetrical, open-center tread pattern is designed for cars capable of high speeds, Nokian said, where the inner shoulder design enhances the removal of water and slush.
Nokian also addessed comfort, noise and economy in the tire's design, adding semi-round cavities on the sides of the longitudinal ribs to help cool the tire, reduce aerodynamic drag, and minimize noise generation.
Nokian will start shipping tires this summer in limited sizes and will expand the size range progressively.
The non-studded Hakka-peliitta R2 and R2 SUV lines incorporate several traction and performance innovations, including the use of as-yet undisclosed "cryo crystals" in the tread compound to enhance ice traction, Mr. Morri said.
Nokian has applied for patents on the "diamond-tough" crystal concept, according to Mr. Morri, who said they aren't walnut shells or other similar materials in use by other tire companies. The eco-friendly crystals are present throughout the rubber compound to provide grip throughout the tire's treadlife.
The directional-tread Hakkapeliitta R2 replaces the Hakkapeliitta R. It incorporates several other tread design and compound changes that enhance snow and wet traction, Mr. Morri said, as well as yield a measurable reduction in rolling resistance.
Nokian also claims advances in tread design, where "grip and slush claws" in the tread blocks help improve grip on snow and ice, especially while braking and accelerating. To prevent a phenomenon Nokian calls "slush-planing," the company puts sharp triangle-shaped slush edges on the critical shoulder area, which minimize the accumulation of slush between the tread blocks.
These changes yield a tire that can stop 33 feet shorter from 50 mph on ice than the Hakkapeliitta R.
The tire also features "pump sipes" in the shoulder area tread blocks and "sipe activators" across the tread area to help pump water away from the tire.
It will be available this fall in 56 sizes, ranging in size from 13 to 20 inches and speed rated R.
The R2 SUV is a more robust version of the R2 featuring different compounds and treads, a two-ply casing, stiffer bead package and a more substantial nylon overlay for enhanced load capacity.
It will be offered in 47 sizes—including nine run-flat sizes—in rim diameters ranging from 15 to 21 inches.