LOUISVILLE, Ky.Falken Tire Corp. is phasing out the use of the Ohtsu brand name for commercial tires, while at the same time re-introducing it to the market as an associate brand line in passenger and light truck tires.
Falken, a unit of Japan's Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd., has been shifting its commercial tire product lineup to the Falken name gradually over the past few years, according to information available at the recent Mid America Trucking Show in Louisville.
The company has controlled the rights to the Ohtsu brand throughout the U.S. since 2010, when it re-acquired them from Itochu International Inc., which had marketed the brand since 2004. Sumitomo owns both the Falken and Ohtsu brand names.
Originally, Falken was the high-performance brand name created in the mid-1980s by a then-independent Ohtsu Tire & Rubber Co., according to Falken's online history.
In shifting its truck tire program to the Falken brand, the company said it is seeking to capitalize on what has become known in the marketplace as a premium name.
In the meantime, Falken has introduced as many as nine Falken-brand truck tires in the long- and regional-haul and on/off-road segments, including the firm's ranges of EcoRun SmartWay-verified low rolling resistance tires, with the Ohtsu brand still active in the deeper lug traction drive, all-position and trailer tires, according to the firm's literature.
These Ohtsu lines are slated to be replaced by newer-generation Falken-brand offerings in the course of 2014, the company said.
At the same time, Falken has launched a range of Ohtsu-brand passenger and light truck tire lines as a value-line associate brand in the company's consumer segment. Among the lines available are the FP7000 all-season performance line and AT4000 All-Terrain light truck tire line.
Sumitomo established Falken Tire in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., in 1985two years after its Ohtsu Tire & Rubber affiliate had launched the brand in Japan as its high-performance brand.
To reach this reporter: bdavis@ crain.com; 330-865-6145.