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Ambitious objectives and a commercial strategy backed up by modern production centres explain the industry’s strong growth. Nexen has set its sights firmly on the future

Alberto Righi

ALTHOUGH IT BECAME known only recently, its rate of growth is such that you’ll be hearing about it a lot more. The Korean tyre manufacturer is expanding rapidly thanks to company reorganization aimed at achieving maximum results and increased volumes in the immediate future.
Nexen Tire products made their first appearance in Italy in the 1990s, but the first commercial outpost in Europe was set up at Frankfurt, Germany, in 2008. Since then, the Korean brand has expanded rapidly because of the high level of its modern and very competitive offer. Careful expansion on the Continent had to include the important Italian market, where the first offices were opened near Milan in 2009.  Nexen Tire Italia Srl was set up in 2012 to handle a portfolio of customers spread throughout the country. With flattering results even last year, it is looking at the future with justifiable optimism.
Because, all in all, Nexen is a well-consolidated company with big ambitions: it is already established in the USA with a range that focuses on cars and SUVs; it supplies original equipment for increasingly popular Korean and other cars like Hyundai, Kia, GM Daewoo, Ssangyong and Mitsubishi; it has also started procedures for supplying major European manufacturers with original equipment. Despite the general crisis, it is an approach that has led to constant world-level growth of 19% a year, ever-increasing market share and, in 2012, global revenues in excess of €1 billion.

Strategies for the future
The Nexen story began in Korea in 1942 when it was known as Heung-A Tire. It began to make tyres for cars in 1956, but the real global impetus that brought the brand to the attention of western markets came at the end of last century. In 2000, it changed its name to Nexen, a contraction of “Next Century”, which coincided with the start of an extensive reorganization process. Since then, there has been decisive expansion in foreign markets like the United States, with California-based Nexen Tire America, and Europe, where  it has increased the penetration of the new range.
Greater opening up to external markets was accompanied by a strengthening of the production centres in China and Korea and the construction of its biggest factory at Changnyeong, a $1.1 billion, 610,000-square-metre mega-complex that was built in just two years with the most advanced construction techniques and is equipped with leading-edge machinery and totally automatic processes. A real environment-friendly colossus located in an ecologically-protected area, with power from renewable sources, energy recovery and pollution reduction systems and state-of-the-art systems for the natural circulation of internal air. In 2012 (the year it opened) it made 6 million tyres, with growth estimated to be around 10 million in 2014 and 21 million in 2018. The ambitions of a record holder that expects all its factories to produce a total of 60 million tyres a year.

A complete range
Under the aegis of the Italian subsidiary, the Nexen range continues its commercial success with a sales force that is attentive and sensitive to the needs of the market. In agreement with retailers and installers, careful programming means that products are punctually delivered straight from the factories.
The approach to a market that is as demanding as Europe, which has always been a real benchmark for maximum performance and the sector’s technological development, had to include a complete and comprehensive range of seasonal products for cars – summer and winter, all-season, particularly environment-friendly models, lines for 4x4 SUVs and light commercial vehicles. In a comprehensive catalogue that covers all automobile sectors, the most representative of Nexen’s products are to be found mainly in the new UHP line N’Fera SU1, a premium tyre with V, W and Y speed ratings launched in the middle of 2012 for more sporty vehicles. Available in a wide range of sizes from 195/45 R15 to 275/30 R20, the N’Fera SU1 line features good wet grip thanks to an asymmetric tread pattern with four different groove sizes and specific ribs for each internal and external block for good handling and precision, even at high speeds. Joining the range this year  will be the N’Fera RU1 version, the premium tyre with particularly dynamic characteristics specifically for high-performance SUVs.
In 2011, attention to the environment meant that the Nexen catalogue included the ecological line N’Blue HD and N’Blue Eco, two evolved, asymmetric tread models that are stable and safe in dry and wet conditions, pay particular attention to durability, reduced consumption and emissions, with T, H and V speed ratings in sizes from 13 to 17 inches. Dedicated specifically to the winter season, the Winguard Snow G made its debut in 2012, a specialized range to meet European needs for mobility in the worst weather conditions. Its ability  to grip on snow and ice is entrusted to a tread with deep grooves and an asymmetric pattern  in well-defined zones. The sizes of this product also cover the widest possible range from 14 to 17 inches, with widths from 155 to 235 mm and ratios from 55 to 70.

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