Falken Tire as part of the Sumitomo Rubber Industries Group are a leading tire manufacturer who are recognised as a major global brand who continue to gain market growth as a very ambitious company within the industry. Apart from being well known in South Africa they are also viewed as a popular option throughout all European countries and particularly in the ultra high performance sector which can be firmly attributed to the brand’s ongoing success in Motorsport events.
SA Treads European correspondent was recently invited to meet with Markus Bogner, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Falken Tire Europe GmbH at the division’s headquarters in Offenbach just outside Frankfurt, Germany to exclusively discuss the European group’s successes in 2018 and potential achievements for the year ahead in 2019.
Markus explained that Falken’s main marketing focus has been through its positive involvement in Motorsport throughout Europe for the past twenty years and they are currently racing two cars – a new Porsche and and established BMW models and it is anticipated that ‘success on the track’ will continue during the coming year.
Markus adds, “However in the past couple of years we have significantly broadened our market exposure and in particular turned towards professional (European) Football sponsorship deals which at present totals an impressive twenty four leading clubs across Europe including Liverpool FC (UK), Athletico Madrid and Seville (Spain) as the larger more well known clubs.”
It is also interesting to note that for 2019 the company has been appointed as the official sponsor of the 26th IHF Mens Handball World Championship in Denmark and Germany which has recently taken place in January and Markus says, “This additional sponsorship project into European Handball further enhances our promotional commitment in sporting events as part of Falken’s brand strategy to continually expand our media presence in a number of different corporate avenues.
When questioned about sales and product advancements during 2018, Markus pointed out that the company had continued to grow its OE sales over the past two to three years and over the past twelve months they had commenced supplying tyres for the new Mercedes G-Class Luxury SUV model which is fitted with its Wildpeak A/T3WA and AS210A patterns in size 265/60R18. He adds, “This latest OE partnership success further highlights our proven success in the SUV and Off-Road performance market sectors and we anticipate other premium tyre manufacturers will join forces with Falken for exciting new product fitments in the future.”
Predictably SA Treads next question was – “It sounds like Falken is not just about performance tyres in Europe then so what other advancements has the brand made recently”. Markus explained, “Yes that is correct and in general there has been a progressive expansion of our tyre range with an extensive amount of new sizes becoming available in the all-season, winter, truck and bus market sectors during the past twelve months. This includes the Eurowinter HS01 pattern which now offers 99 size options plus the Eurowinter HS01 SUV with 39 current sizes.
“At the same time more sizes have been added to the popular Falken G1388 tire which specialises in regional transport and construction site operations.”
It also seems that Falken has been busy when it comes to tyre testing in consumer magazines with impressive performances in Germany and the UK in 2018 by beating many more traditional premium manufacturers which Markus firmly believes has created a crucial ‘turning point’ with the Falken brand now being recognised as a genuine contender in the premium tyre field throughout Europe which he is sure can be credited to the company’s special design features through their unique 4DNANO process. This process has now been implemented across the entire tire range and ensures an even better grip and overall road performance.
When SA Treads asked Markus about what lies ahead this year he confirmed that there will be more OE product launches along with additional expansion of the tyre size assortment which will incorporate new high performance patterns for the SUV and Run Flat patterns in order to gain even wider corporate presence in Europe. He says, “There is no doubt that 2018 was a very successful year for us with strong sales results in all European countries and volumes exceeded our expectations. We confidently expect this momentum to continue which will be boosted by our new Research and Development facility in Germany which is now fully operational.”
Markus is adamant that Falken, having been able to meet the changing market demands in specific versions of tyres for various OEM’s and vehicle lines can proceed even further as a leading brand in 2019 not just in Europe but on an international basis.
These days with the industry so competitive it is rare to be able to speak with a leading tyre manufacturer in Europe but this interview will gives a rare insight into how the tire industry at the ‘top end’ is shaping up on the European Continent.