Toyo launches AB-rated NanoEnergy 1 tyre
During Reifen 2012 Toyo Tire launched its NanoEnergy 1 and Nanoenergy 2 tyres which represent both the company’s latest technology and a unique response to the labelling challenge. With the addition of the new tyres and the AB rating that comes with the NanoEnergy 1, Toyo now offers some of the highest European labelling rated products currently available in the market. With both being production ready products rather than concepts tyres, Toyo appears to be communicating that it is aiming to compete at the very top of the market.
With just one exception, Toyo’s latest tyre was something of a benchmark at the show. The NanoEnergy 1 offers an A grade for Rolling Resistance, a B grade for wet performance and a noise level of 68dB. It is available in 195/65 R15 91H. The A grade rolling resistance and the 68dB noise rating are particularly impressive. No other current product on-show in Essen scored as well on both criteria.
The Nanoenergy 2 also boasts an A grade for rolling resistance putting it in the top class for environmental performance. However this tyre has a C grade for wet performance and a still quiet (but not as quiet as the other tyre) 70dB noise level for all sizes. What this tyre does have that few next generation tyres offer at the moment is a size range. It is available in 11 sizes from 15 inch to 17 inch and H to W speed ratings. Further sizes will be added to both products in 2013.
According to the company, the two new NanoEnergy tyres have been developed using Toyo Tires’ proprietary Nano Balance Technology. The Nano Balance Philosophy encompasses four stages, Research, Analysis, Design and Production. The reported effect of this has been to develop new and innovative materials and processes to deliver better products as can be seen in the Nanoenergy tyres launched at the show.
A unique labelling approach
The strategic significance of the launch was demonstrated by the fact that Toyo sent global level executives to attend and address those gathered. Tamatso Sakuramoto, corporate officer, head of European Business Unit, welcomed guests to the event while Mr Kanai, general manager passenger car and light truck tyre development, Toyo Tire R&D Division introduced NanoEnergy.
While the labelling ratings for the two new tyres are obviously high, what sets these tyres apart from the premium manufacturers, Toyo’s peers and everyone else is the fact that the company really has tried to make them “green” products. Other large manufacturers – even those who have based their marketing on a longstanding fuel saving narrative – have opted to sacrifice a grade or two on rolling resistance as long as wet braking remains high. Judging by the AB and AC labels of the Nanoenergy tyres Toyo is working the other way. The extremely low noise ratings emphasise this fact as other leading manufacturers have again seen this area as neutral ground or at least less of a priority than the other two. Toyo on the other hand points to the fact that its tyres are the quietest and highlights this strength with promotional material highlighting the environmental benefits of quieter tyres.
There are at least two good reasons for taking this approach. Firstly because it – to some extent – sets Toyo apart from other firms in the market. And with markets in Europe, such as the UK’s saturated with 200 plus brands, differentiation is no bad thing. And secondly because of the company could be taking into account how its products will fair in other non-European markets.
The management representatives that Tyres & Accessories spoke to during the launch event emphasised the second explanation. When you consider the rigmarole association with defining and standardisation the European test procedure, it is easy to see how some companies might tune their products to the labelling criteria irrespective of what they score in other areas. Toyo appears to have designed its Nanoenergy tyres from a broader perspective, with the global tyre labelling landscape in mind. Japanese and Korean labelling for example, which works in a different way to the European system putting more emphasis on the environmental attributes, is already in place and it makes a lot of sense to design a tyre that performs strongly here and across all test markets.
Toyo also unveiled its new airless concept tyre, which is reminiscent of other French and Japanese designed polyurethane spoked airless wheels.