A surprise in the growing electric vehicle (EV) industry, Denlein said, is EV customers are still using non-EV tires despite the push from manufacturers to create EV lineups.
"From an OE standpoint, we're utilizing what you could call ICE-vehicle tires and developing EV-modified versions that align with the performance issues the EV requires," he said. "On the replacement side, we are moving in the same direction.
"We'll continue in this particular direction to have product available in the necessary fitments, and we're going to continue to modify the segment and look at it to see where it goes and determine whether we actually need a dedicated product line for the portfolio."
Denlein said airless tires are an emerging technology to keep an eye on.
"The successful implementation of airless tires would be a game-changer," he said. "There's still some issues that need to be overcome with rolling resistance and heat generation with high-speed and high-load applications with airless technology, but that would be one to keep an eye on, and one we are in the process of developing."
Another emerging trend is the all-weather touring tire segment.
"It's growing every year — 32% the last three years and expected to grow 24% in a market that's currently down."
He said Kumho is seeing all-weather tire demand in states like California, Florida, Georgia and Texas.
"The all-weather is not only pulling from winter segments, but also lower touring segments, like T-rating and broad-market tires," he said.
"The way it's being marketed — it used to be, 'I'll use all-weather because I have snow,' but now we talk about rain and how the message is being sent out. That's why, I think, you see it in these particular states."
Kumho's associate dealer program is strong, he said, with one of the highest pay-outs in the industry.
"It's a way to support the distributors, and if you collectively add up that program, it becomes one of your largest programs. We still are dominated by the independent tire dealer — so if you look at it that becomes one of your most important customers, just under the branch of a lot of customers."