Earlier this month Finnish tire manufacturer Nokian officially inaugurated its third production facility in Dayton, Tennessee. The new plant joins the existing Nokian factories located in Nokia, Finland and in Vsevolozhsk, Russia.
Long a specialist in winter tires, Nokian now also produces all-seasons tires, including a range designed for trucks, such as the recent Rotiiva line of tires. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Dayton plant, the company used the occasion to introduce the assembled media to a new all-seasons tire made for pickups, commercial vans and SUVs, the One HT.
All-seasons, In October? It’s worth noting that virtually all tire manufacturers transition from producing winter tires to all-seasons and summer tires nearly one year in advance (reservations for 2019-2020 winter tires generally wrapped up a few months ago). Hence the presentation of the One HT, a product that will eventually replace all of the current Rotiiva products.
At the same time, Nokian is announcing its intention to makes its presence felt even more in North America with a tire that’s made to order for the most popular vehicle type in the U.S., the pickup truck.
The One HT is a premium tire the specifications of which go beyond the older Rotiiva in terms of traction in the rain, durability and, especially, comfort. As mentioned, while the tire is designated for use in all seasons, it is not certified for winter driving.
The new product will only be available next January, but when it is will come in 36 sizes for wheels ranging from 16 to 22 inches; 14 of those sizes are catalogued LT (Light Truck), and these will have as a defining characteristic what Nokina refers to as Aramid Armour. This technology integrates pieces of aramid fibre (aramid is a more resistant and more flexible than carbon fibre) in the rubber on the sidewalls and on the tread to reduce the risk of perforations and cuts at the hands of potholes and other on-road obstacles.
Incidentally, the P-Metric versions of the One HT do not get at Aramid Armour protection, though the sidewalls of these tires do at least benefit from the Aramid Sidewall technology that provides protection there.
Another characteristic of LT-Metric versions (for pickups and delivery vans) is that they display the R and S speed ratings (which means maximum sustained resistance is assured up to speeds of 170 km/h and 180 km/h). P-Metric versions (more applicable to SUVs) get speed ratings of T and H (190 km/h and 210 km/h, respectively). Lastly, all HT LT tires have a maximum load index of E thanks to their 10-ply carcass.
Unlike the older Rotiiva pickup tires, the new One HT is more conventionally structured, making the tire safer on dry road surfaces. That said, its variable-depth sipes enable superior braking on wet pavement, according to Nokian.
Nokian also says the larger grooves in the median longitudinal ribs improve the grip of the tires when braking, whatever the conditions. The company adds that the large main sipes, combined with cross grooves running between the blocs on the tire shoulder, ensure improved water evacuation. These shoulders stabilize the tire when cornering and on straightaways.
A quieter ride is assured by a longitudinal rib that wraps around the two rows of the blocs on the tire shoulder. The stair motif of the central rib adds to the straightness of the tire’s roll.
Obviously, since it’s an all-seasons tire, the One HT is also quite capable on fine snow thanks to the sharp edges of the shoulder, while the small zig-zag grooves found on each side and the griffes de prise help with lengthwise grip in deeper snow. Again, the One HT is not designed for driving through the winter, but it will do the job in the season’s first snowfalls and, by the same token, in light late-spring snow drops.
The One HT is equipped with stone ejectors at the groove bottoms to reduce the chance of perforations. Lastly, as per the current trend in the industry, the tread of this new Nokian product is low-resistance to help reduce fuel consumption.
One extra note: the One HT is designed with wear indicators (indicated as percentages) displayed on the tread, which has a wear warranty of 115,000 km for P-Metric tires and 90,000 km for LT-Metric and van tires.
On the road
After all the extensive testing of the One HT carried out by Nokian’s technicians everywhere from Texas to Utah, from South Africa to California, and of course in Finland, the manufacturer gave us the opportunity to appraise for ourselves the qualities of its new tire in the region around Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the city itself and on the highway, as well as on gravel roads in Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee.
Participants at the event drove Ram Classic pickup trucks over the course of several hours under a sun beating down on us with intent (the temperature hovered around 30 degrees Celsius on the day).
On the highway, the LT tire produced very little noise, and the One HT showed it could deliver an excellent comfort level. Unfortunately, we never got the chance to drive on wet pavement to test out the grip of the tire in that context.
Otherwise, despite the truck’s relatively light steering, the Ram truck held firm on its path. The effectiveness of the One HT was even more apparent when we left the paved road behind to do a stretch of gravel surface in Cherokee National Forest. The deep grooves helped deliver excellent stability on the trails made of gravel and earth, without making us feel every surface imperfection.
Once again, the tire was able to snuff out most of the noise associated with driving on difficult terrain. We were four in the truck and could converse without having to having to raise the volume much at all. We did note some pebbles lodged in the grooves, but they were quickly dispatched once we back on a paved surface.
The full range of One HT tires will be available starting in Janyary 2020, in all sizes. For regions of Canada, like Quebec, where certified winter tires are required, it will serve nicely as a replacement tire for your vehicle once spring has sprung. In the rest of the country, it is appropriate for nearly all meteorological conditions most will have to contend with.
Note that initially, the tire will be manufactured in Russia, but eventually production will move to the new fully-automated factory in Tennessee.
Lastly, Nokian has not set pricing for the One HT tire yet, but we can expect it will be priced slightly higher than the Rotiiva products. The latter are set to disappear once production of the One HT reaches cruising speed.