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Nokian Heavy Tyres Focus in on Premium Tyres and New Technological Innovations

Nokian Heavy Tyres Innovations

Nokian Heavy Tyres are the top of the bill in Part 9 of the Commercial Tyre Business Agriculture Feature as we had the opportunity to interview three key members of their team in the form of Jarkko Heinamaki (Sales Director), Tero Saari (Agricultural Tyres Product Manager) and Pierre Choubert (Business Manager).

COVID-19: Nokian Heavy Tyres Plans for the Agriculture Sector

We began with Jarkko Heinamaki, the Sales Director at Nokian Heavy Tyres (NHT), who gave us a summary of how the Finnish tyre manufacturer has responded to the COVID-19 crisis from the point of view of the agricultural sector. Jarkko’s comments identified a strategy supported by two key pillars. The first pillar saw NHT continuing to be close to the customer, whilst the second pillar was focused on production, in particular the fact that the manufacturer opted to keep its factory open and operating at the highest capacity possible.

Heinamaki clarified, “So when COVID-19 hit Europe last year, we decided that our sales team would continue visiting our customers whenever possible. This been said he stated that safety is their top priority and they have been following company’s safety instructions and taking all necessary safety precautions to avoid COVID-19 spreading and a lot of meetings have been held online or over the phone.  It is in the nature of our sales team to be close to the customers but at the same time meet them outside where it is possible to keep the safety distances.

Additionally, we decided to keep the factory up and running as much as possible. Of course, we had a short break in the springtime of 2020, when demand collapsed, but in general we were able to have the factory up and running to avoid any shortages in the market.”


Pierre Choubert, Business Manager at Nokian Heavy Tyres joined in at this stage to point out the importance of customer contacts for the Finnish tyre manufacturer in the company’s sales process. “I think it says something about our approach to the market. We are a premium manufacturer with high-technology products, and we know that best way to support our customers is to be as close to them as possible,” he said.

Choubert also had some words about the changes triggered in the market by the COVID-19 crisis. With businesses far and wide put under unprecedented levels of pressure, the Food Standards Agency in the UK reported that 35% of consumers had purchased ‘local’ foods as a key finding in its COVID-19 Consumer Tracker Waves One and Two Report. This change in consumer behaviour has not gone unnoticed by Nokian Heavy Tyres, with Choubert commenting on how the Finnish tyre manufacturer has had to ‘change its approach’ as consumers begin to prioritise local products.

Choubert said; “People in Europe are becoming more and more sensitive to the quality of their food after COVID-19. They want more local production. The pandemic accelerated this change in 2020, that is clear. We know people are staying at home and that people are looking at product quality. So, we have changed our approach.

“This is the reason why we have to launch new products to give a positive answer to this market change. It also means that intensive agriculture is finding its limits, meaning that we will no longer be able to see the increase in yields that we experienced in the 80s that pushed farmers to seek efficiency and to outsource some activities to contractors.”


As for market-to-market differences in terms of the pandemic’s impact, Heinamaki explained that Nokian Heavy Tyres performance in those markets was less market-dependent and more reliant on the company’s actions and operations.

“The differences we saw were largely due to our own efforts,” he explained. “For example, in the French market where we have a really good sales team, we saw really good results – in Germany also.

Trends in the Agricultural Tyre Sector: Nokian Heavy Tyres View

Bigger, faster, heavier tractors. That has been a key theme of the Commercial Tyre Business Agriculture feature so far. All tyre manufacturers are having to face up to these demands and trends in the machine park by developing tyres that are kind on the soil, but also offer the on-road / off-road performance capabilities that farmers want.

“For me it has been a bit of a surprise [that the size of the tractor is continuously increasing], because I believed when we reached 350 HP that it was the limit,” said Pierre Choubert. “However, it continues to increase. From a technological point of view, this is a big challenge for the industry.

“Another challenge will be the speed of the machines. If this continues on the same path, it will become a big challenge. Currently we are at 50/60 kmph in some countries, but tomorrow we could be at 90 kmph.”

Despite the huge challenge posed by machines becoming ever-more powerful, it could be argued that Nokian Tyres is well-positioned to react to any market changes thanks to the data collected via Nokian Tyres Intuitu™ smart tiresIntuitu is currently only available in Finland but it is been tested across Europe now and will be available for other areas too in the near future. The wireless and machine-independent system uses in-built sensors and a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone to keep drivers informed at all times.


Choubert explained; “as machines get larger and more digitalised, data from tyres for improving efficiency, safety, and reducing fuel costs will be far more critical. With smart pressure and temperature monitoring from Nokian Tyres Intuitu™, you will always know how your tires are doing.

Returning to the heavy machinery trends, Tero Saari, Agricultural Tyres Product Manager for Nokian Heavy Tyres, added that he expected that tractors would continue getting bigger, but that the key challenge would lie in how to  transfer that power into the efficiency of work.

Saari, who has been with Nokian Tyres for 10 years, with 2 years as a Product Manager in Agricultural Tyres, dived into the particular trends and demands that Nokian Tyres are seeing from the market besides machinery becoming heavier and faster. Two key topics he identified were operational efficiency and operational agility.

“Like in any business, there is also a drive for scale and operational efficiency, which can be seen in how the equipment is used and what kind of equipment is used in field work, with the need to cover more work in less time. Tyre technology needs to support this type of efficient operating model in agriculture.

“Another point we are seeing driving the market is operational agility in terms of being able to perform a variety of work well, doing that [work] well outside of the typical agricultural work season and in total making that a sustainable business. With our products, we want to support that model as well.”

A Premium Product with Premium Offerings for Specialised and Diversified Operations

Nokian Heavy Tyres has successfully positioned itself as a premium offering as an option in the agricultural and contracting sector with products covering tractorstrailersslurry tankers, telescopic loaders, wheel loaders, and property maintenance amongst other machines used in this sector. As we can see from the list of vehicles that the manufacturer provides for, the company serves the needs of both specialised and diversified operations.

nokian-forest-king (1)

Considering the product was launched in 2019 and is a newcomer to the market, we wanted to find out more about the pan-European feedback to the product. Pierre Choubert, who is responsible for a variety of markets across Europe, emphasised the positive nature of the feedback.

“We have had really good feedback on the Nokian Ground King. It is a hybrid tyre, and the results have been really, really good. Across all Central Europe, we have had really good feedback from the field. We are growing a lot with this tyre, and it is a really good concept for the future.

“It really is a positive point for Nokian Tyres that we can launch these types of innovative products.”

Choubert proceeded to clarify the key role that the research & development department played in the Nokian Ground King’s success. According to Choubert, in contrast to some of the other manufacturers, Nokian Tyres spends more time in developing new tyres and is unable to bring products to market at the same speed as some of the other market players.

“We can’t launch a tyre in 6 months. We started to make the first prototype of Nokian Ground King four and a half years ago, and we launched the tyre one year ago. We focus in developing premium tyres, and therefore we have a thorough product development process in Nokian Tyres.

“Additionally, we have to make many tests before we launch the high-quality tyre.”

It’s clear to see that the extensive testing and investment in research and development has allowed Nokian Tyres to reap the rewards from the Nokian Ground King, allowing it to become a leading product.

Saari reinforced this by commenting, “We see that investments in modern technology in research and development and manufacturing are taking us further and strengthening our strategic capabilities. However, in the end it boils down to our products being built on an understanding of what different end users value and need from their tyres, and doing that well by making the right technological choices and being innovative in what we do.”

As for new products? Saari stressed that although many new products are in the pipeline, the company is not at the stage of being able to discuss those developments just yet.

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