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The Truth About Nankang Tires

Fitment Industries Author | | September 20th, 2018 |

  • When we first started this series of Tire History, we went into different brands, good brands, and well, I'd say old-school brands lik BFGoodrich, Michelin, everything in between that just had this big heritage behind it. We went into the history of Toyo, Nitto, and now, we're going into the history of one of those brands that has become so insanely popular in the last five or 10 years. On this episode of tire history, we're going to cover none other than Nankang.
    (slo-mo) Nan. Nankang. Nankang, we're just going to call it Nankang Tire History. So, don't forget to subscribe. Check out the links below, and check out fitmentindustries.com if you get bored as we talk about Nankang Tires. Now, Nankang Tires was founded in 1940 in Taiwan, and they were one of the first tire companies in Taiwan. In fact, their name is an actually an ode to where the company was originally founded and where one of their two major production plants is still in existence producing tires to this day. A lot of their initial growth came from their Hsinfung plant, which if you want to try saying three times fast, you can definitely give it a best shot. A lot of their growth came from that. Over time, what they really just got involved in was making good, affordable tires. Now, they have a lot of creditation, accreditation, accomplishments, whatever, what have you, that are cool, but not like our cool. They did the things. They introduced tires that were like the first of their kind from Taiwan, but they're tractor tires, and they're just not very exciting. So, we're not, we're gonna, we're just going to skip over that. We are going to say that they do claim that they were the first ones to introduce the radial tire, which if you guys didn't watch the BFGoodrich, it actually is a little bit of a controversial thing on if they actually did or not, and that's entirely, we're just not going to get into it because we if we stated that that's not true, than Nankang is going to call us and be like, "Yo, take your video down." "But you said it in your stuff." And they're going to be like, "Yeah, but we're loaded," and we're going to say, "OK, we'll take the video down." So, we're just not going to get into the discussion about who came first. You guys can make that out on your own, but what you do need to know is a lot of Nankang's initial success came from that plant, and then, afterwords, their success and cooperation with getting involved with the Yokohama name. Now, Yokohama is name that's been around for quite a long time and because of the cooperation and partnership with Yokohama, they essentially blew up even more so in the late 70s. Now, Nankang was originally a state-operated company that specialized in military rubber supplies. So, they essentially weren't really, they were like the DMV, pretty much. They were just another department of something for Taiwan, and they really never were a privatized, established business until the late 70s when they were like, "Hey, can we, why are we "the department of motor vehicles "when we can be our own car dealership?" And that's a terrible analogy to make about a tire company, but in short, that's essentially what they did, and they broke off from just being a state-owned, military op. They officially changed their name to the Nankang Tire Corporation in 1959, and with their partnership with Yokohama behind them, they had everything that they would need to essentially get bigger and better. From there, they implemented plants in China in the late 70's, and they implemented different plants in Taiwan, and they just essentially got established in a lot of international trade. Because of the Yokohama partnership that they had and the fact that they essentially went privatized in 1996, Nankang essentially became more, and more, and more an individualistic person that then needed to take help from no man because they could just do whatever they want, and they did. They started producing tires and everything for everything they possibly could, and while they did make stuff for airplanes back in the early 70's, just like everybody else, and they made different bus tires. So, then they made airplane tires. They did do it in a way that allowed people to essentially get signed onboard with the Nankang brand, and if you guys didn't know, there's a lot more money in commercial partnership than there is with selling $600 tires to your normal Joe and Schmoe, and what ended up happening is, because of those established partnerships, especially in the late 70's and 80's, Nankang essentially started to get some money under their belt, and they began to grow, and they never really featured any sort of cutbacks or setbacks like a lot of other tire brands do. You see, with tire brands, this is what happens. They start the business. They get super popular. A lot of people start running them. They start making lots of tires, and then they're like, "Well, why don't we just go sell "everything everywhere?" So, they get involved in rubber grommets and then different sorts of widgets, anything that they could possibly produce. The next thing you know, they're in over there head in inventory, and they've made absolutely no money because their headquarters are spread all throughout the world, and it's just a massive mess, and then, companies have to resize, cutback, setback, and have to start all over like new, and then, you have companies that have to start back from the ground and go back up, and it happens with almost every single tire brand. Every tire brand we talk about has always had an issue like that, and Nankang really hasn't.

    They've always been involved in making things that just work. Nankang, essentially, has become 99% commercial tire business, and do nothing more than produce tires. Even though they can do other stuff, they really just don't because they don't need to. They provide themselves on using raw material instead of getting it from other people and places, and they were one of the first people to coin the studless and stud-winter tire, as well as the radial tire, which I've already said once, but I'm going to say it again because you guys like facts. You can do whatever you want with that. It really doesn't do anything for us. I know what you really want to know is about the NS-20, and we're going to get that in just a little bit. Just hold on, and if you want any other fun facts, in 1974, they developed the first steel-belted tire. Two years after, they developed the first fuselage tire for the T-28 coach plane. They developed 70 series radial tires in 1977. They developed another tire in 1979, a fuselage for a T-33 coach plane. Do you really care? Maybe if you're on, y'know, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" and you're looking for a question to answer. But for the most part, what you do need to know is that Nankang got involved, they got established, and now here they are in the America. Now, Nankang is a brand that isn't super popular, I would say, in the grand scheme of things. However, in current day and age, especially with people that we talk to, Nankang has become insanely popular. The Nankang NS-20 is probably by far one of the most popular tires that we sell to you guys for wheels and tires and things like that. And the questions comes into is why has Nankang hit a market at a price point that they have for so long, and how do they do it? And then, of course, are the tires, y'know, any good? What you do have to know is that they produce tires for Geostar, Milestar, and a whole bunch of other companies that also sell tires under a different name. They do private label their tires if you want to. The biggest thing that happens with Nankang is that their in a very peculiar spot. So, if you look at different brands, you have brands like Ohtsu, Nankang, Nitto, Toyo, Michelin, BFGoodrich, and then all of them come together, and they focus on different markets. Is Nankang involved in motor sports, like Toyo and Nitto are? No. Is Nankang involved in absolutely nothing, like Ohstu is? Probably not, but is Ohstu an absolute behemoth of a company? Yeah, they are. Nankang is just like, they're just kind of there. Their sole purpose is just to make. It's like going to McDonald's, you can get a dollar menu burger, or they have like a two-for-fiver deal, or you can get a whole meal. Like the two-for-fiver, that's Nankang. They're there. Like they're budget affordable, they work, but they're not crazy when it comes to different research and development.

    Now they do have R and D put into their tires, but nothing in compared to what other brands do to essentially mark up a lot of the pricing on their tires. You're not gonna see Nankang put next a Proxes 888R, you're not gonna see Nankang get put next to a Pilot Sport 4 S, you're not gonna see them compared to those brands cause that's not what they specialize in. Especially the Nankang NS-20, which is the iconic tire right now for the Nankang brand, especially when it comes to passenger cars. It's pretty much meant to be a tire that just works, that survives, and that just gets the job done for a pretty cheap price. Does that mean Nankang tires are bad? Not necessarily. Nankang's are what you would get when you talk about bang for your buck. Nankang really is that brand. And that's where you get into a lot of people arguing about the brand, saying that they're just a run-off brand, and that they're not good. And by definition, that would be no. Nankang has history in Taiwan as one of the first tires companies to exist over there. They have developed tons of the first tire, the first of studless tire, the first stud tire, the first radial tire if you want to consider that in the tire business, and for the most part they aren't a super huge company, so they are doing pretty well for themselves considering just how involved they are in China, America, and Taiwan. And of course, they also produce tires for other countries. For the most pa