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Kinergy 4S2X responds to the calls of the market

Convenience can often overshadow other shortcomings, but that should never occur with tires as safety is paramount. It may be natural for safe tires with added convenience to perform very well in the market. We met with the key developers of the 4S2 X, an all-weather tire for SUVs with both safety and added comfort.

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  • The all-weather tire Kinergy 4S2 for passenger cars with an enhanced winter driving performance and the all-weather tire Kinergy 4S2 X for SUVs.

Safety first, convenience second

Technology tends to make things more convenient. We live in a world where a small smartphone can perform virtually everything digital. So, we can see the giant strides taken in the tech space.

The same can be said about tires. The tires now have agglomerated different technology that the need to replace tires per seasonal changes is now a thing of the past. The well-made all-weather tire can take care of it all. The era of all-weather SUV tires that safely run on wet roads in midsummer rain and even snow in winter has come.

  • The all-weather tire is an all-in-one product that adds winter performance as well as four-season driving.

The all-weather SUV tire matches the demand for SUVs

The COVID-19 pandemic brought along a new wave of interest in SUVs.
As everyone is now looking for SUVs, car manufacturers are pumping out new models to meet the demand, and the unique breeds of SUVs are being launched. Electric SUVs with motors and batteries that replaced the internal combustion engine are here to stay.

The diversity of the SUV segment is also fueling such a craze. The hybrid technology significantly improved fuel efficiency, and the diversified SUV designs are also one of the causes of this new demand. Some models have been retro-styled by reinterpreting the iconic models that were popular in the past, while others have been reborn in a coupe-style instead of the traditional two-box design. Occasionally, tires with a higher height ratio have been installed on a minivan to give a similar look to an SUV, while some have been slightly redesigned from sedans to call themselves an SUV simply to ride the market wave.

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  • Hankook Tire's Kinergy 4S2 X is a product that perfectly fits today's SUV fever. Kinergy 4S2 is an all-weather tire for passenger cars with enhanced safety in rainy and snowy conditions, while Kinergy 4S2 X is an exclusive SUV tire with the same all-weather performance.

Interview

"We heard the market speak. Changing tires depending on the changes of the season from winter to summer was entirely cumbersome, and we wanted to address the need with the tire that ensures the best performance in winter. The all-weather tires are gaining its popularity not only in Europe but globally."

Yewon Lee (Consumer Product Marketing Team)

Q. I heard that all-weather tires are popular in the SUV market.

The leader in the all-weather tire category for sedans, Kinergy 4S2, is the basis in which we developed the 4S2 X, all-weather tire for SUVs. This is a strategic product in the market where SUVs have taken center stage.

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Q. What is the reason for the development?

We heard the market speak. As you may know, European countries have legislated the laws designating the tread depth in millimeters to replace the tires and winter tires to be used in the winter season. Replacing tires twice every winter season was so cumbersome for many Europeans. Many either did not have the time or were concerned about the cost. Our project started there. "Alright, let's try to solve it all at once. We heard our European office say there was market demand for the all-in-one tire. So, let's start the R&D process to make it a reality." This was the genesis of tire development. We develop and market products per region to meet the unique requirements and needs of the customers. The all-weather segment started in the European market and expanded globally to the Americas and Asian markets. Kinergy 4S2 X maintained its number one market position for two years in a row in Europe and is expected to grow even further.

Q. I presume the sales of the all-weather tires will depend heavily on the climate.

Absolutely. For example, some regions require all-weather tires depending on the environment and climate in North America. The eastern regions of the United States and Canada need winter tires, while the western regions, including California, do not. This drastically different climate made them well aware of the advantages of all-weather tires.

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Q. Who are you targeting with the all-weather tires?

In general, if the temperature falls below 7℃, winter tires are recommended, especially in areas that experience a lot of snow. The snow overnight will freeze the road in the morning and lead to accidents if not immobilized. So, it is natural for winter tires to be installed in areas with many mountain roads or frequent heavy snowfall, but most people outside of those regions often use all-weather tires. In other words, replacing and storing tires at the beginning and end of every winter season is too much hassle for most. These are the target customer groups of Kinergy 4S2 and 4S2 X. Guaranteeing strong performance with added convenience will attract the customers.

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Performance diagram of Kinergy 4S2 X. All-weather tires have superior performance on wet and snowy roads than all-season tires.

Q. What is the standard for all-weather tires?

All-season tires generally lack the winter season performance. However, all-weather tires show a performance profile closer to that of winter tires. The v-shaped tread patterns allow excellent driving performance on snowy roads, and our research shows 95 to 98% for winter performance tires. However, winter tires show a degrading performance in the summer season, while the all-season tires show a better grip on wet roads than winter tires. That is why they are called "all-weather" tires.

Q. Is the all-weather tire legal in Europe where winter-tires are required by law?

We have received a few inquiries regarding the legality of using all-weather tires in the winter that are still in line with the law. From the aspect of categorizing tires, the category of tire, all-weather, does not matter. However, the 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMSF) branded tires qualify as being approved for the winter season. Given by the global standardization association, the 3PMSF brand is only given to tires that pass the braking test under snowy and icy road conditions. Both Kinergy 4S2 and 4S2 X are branded with the 3PMSF symbol.

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Kinergy 4S2 and 4S2 X with the 3PMSF symbol branded on the side wall

Q. Does it mean all-weather tires must go through a snow test like winter tires?

Of course. We are conducting the test both at our Geumsan G'track and in the Arctic Circle. Since 2017, Hankook Tire has been operating the Technotrack, specializing in winter tire testing only in Ivalo, Finland, at 68° north latitude. It recently opened the Nürburgring workshop to test OE tires supplied to high-performance SUVs from Porsche, Audi, and BMW. The plan is to increase sales by developing outstanding products through preemptive investments and supplying products tailored to each region's characteristics..

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  • Five test tracks at Technotrack located at Ivalo, Finland.

Q. What are the similarities and differences between 4S2 and 4S2 X?

As SUVs are taller than sedans, they are more prone to side-to-side movements. Therefore, the tires designed for SUVs usually have reinforced structures. Kinergy 4S2 X also has a reinforced sidewall to improve the tires' side rolling, ensuring a comfortable ride. The material and pattern of the tread are the same as that of the Kinergy 4S2. In other words, by applying the ISCC PLUS certified natural oil and bio-based polymer, both the performance and durability are improved while lowering the wear compared to summer tires. Both Kinergy 4S2 and 4S2 X are all-weather tires, designed while being conscious of global climate changes, manufactured with eco-friendly methods, and were awarded high points in various respected magazine tests. Kinergy 4S2 was awarded first place from both German magazine Auto Bild and Britain's Auto Express in their all-weather tire performance tests.

Q. I heard about winning the Manufacturer of the Year 2021 title in the all-weather tire category. Congratulations!

Auto Bild reviews all the tire performance tests at the end of every year to award the "Manufacturer of the Year" award. As the award is given to a company rather than a product, it signifies the technical achievements of a company when being named as the manufacturer of the year Kinergy 4S2, and 4S2 X performed exceptionally well, ranking first in the same performance test for two years in a row. This should have an impact on our sales in the winter season.

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  • Hankook Tire won the Manufacturer of the Year title in the all-weather tire category of the Auto Bild group in November 2021.

Q. How does it drive with Kinergy 4S2 X tires on the vehicle? Please tell us from the user’s perspective.

It shows better winter season performance metrics than the all-season tires. Not replacing tires as the season changes while ensuring winter safety is very attractive. Commuting every day and being with family on weekends is enough on your plate, and replacing tires is going to be the last thing on your mind. The V-shaped tread pattern of the Kinergy 4S2 X is optimized for driving in the rain and snow, so you can experience driving stability immediately. The road noise is low compared to the tires with a similar level of traction, and the convenience of not replacing the tires is accompanied with a peace of mind by providing excellent grip on the winter roads. If you are driving an SUV, I would like you to experience the Kinergy 4S2 X.