NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Hankook Tire America Inc. is jumping into the rapidly growing all-weather U.S. tire segment with an all-weather version of its Kinergy passenger tire line, the Kinergy 4S2, that's been on sale in Europe since early 2018.
The new line carries the tire industry's Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake rating for snow traction and is backed by a 60,000-mile treadwear warranty, road-hazard coverage and a 30-day free trial.
Hankook will offer the KS2 in the U.S. initially in 45 sizes covering 15- to 20-inch rim diameters, running from 185/65R15 to 245/50R20 in H, V and W speed ratings. The tire already is in limited circulation in Canada.
The 4S2 features a directional V-shaped tread design with serrated edge grooves and a slush edge for improved snow traction and winter-weather cornering. The tire's 3D sipes also provide improved braking performance in winter conditions.
The line also uses a high-grip silica-reinforced compound, which combined with a broad lateral tread groove allows for improved wet traction and water evacuation, Hankook said. High density sipes enhance stiffness to improve dry performance.
"The Kinergy 4S2 was specifically engineered for optimal performance in all four seasons," Kijong Kil, vice president of replacement development, said.
"While it maintains strong dry performance and long mileage for the warmer months, its cutting-edge tread design also provides outstanding performance in winter conditions."
While the tire visually is essentially the same as that sold in Europe, the model being offered in the U.S. features slight changes to the compounding and construction to improve its tread life, Curtis Brison, vice president of passenger and light truck sales for Hankook Tire America, told Tire Business.
"American consumers place a high value on tread-life," he said, "so we had to address that, and a 60,000-mile warranty attests to it."
Hankook produces the 4S2 at its plant in Kumsan, South Korea. The tire won an IF Design Award in 2019 after its launch in Europe.
For Hankook dealers in areas that experience winter temperatures but not a great deal of snow, the Kinergy 4S2 offers a winter-optimized alternative to a pure snow tire or all-season tires.
Mr. Brison didn't offer any figures on the size of the U.S. market for all-weather tires other than to say Hankook estimates it's about 5% to 10% of the all-season market. U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association data show all-season tread designs represent 68% of the U.S. passenger tire replacement market.
Hankook plans to offer a rebate — $70 for a set of four — on the 4S2 on purchases starting Sept. 18 as part of its Fall Classic promotion, which will tie in with and leverage Hankook's status as Major League Baseball's official tire.
The 4S2 will complement Hankook's all-season offerings — Kinergy ST, GT and PT and Optimo H724, H426 and H725 — and its winter tire lineup, i*cept evo2 and i*Pike RW11.
Other companies already competing in this sector include:
- Bridgestone Americas Inc. with the Firestone WeatherGrip;
- Goodyear Assurance WeatherReady;
- Nokian Tyre Inc. with the Nokian WR G4 and WR G4 SUV;
- Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp.'s Celsius line, with versions for passenger cars, SUV/CUVs and light trucks/commercial vans;
- Apollo Tyre Ltd.'s Vredestein brand's Quatrac Pro.
- Zafco International's Armstrong Blu-Trac passenger and Tru-Trac SUV/light-truck product lines.