It was an event befitting a major product launch because that’s what it was – the introduction of the GT Radial Maxtour LX to the North American market.

The new Maxtour LX grand touring tire for CUVs and sedans is being produced at the Chester County plant (most of the 40 sizes). The result of a global Giti collaborative effort, it is an outstanding performer, as evidenced by independent testing against two key competitors.

As the old saying goes, “Seeing is believing.” Key North American dealers and the news media were invited on March 26-27 to see the Maxtour LX being manufactured in real time at the plant and then on to Charlotte Motor Speedway to compare the GT Radial product against two competitors – Continental TrueContact Tour and the Hankook Kinergy ST.

The event capped off in spectacular fashion with NASCAR drivers giving adrenaline-pumping “hot laps” on the speedway; followed by an evening at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in downtown Charlotte, featuring simulated stock car racing and North Carolina barbecue.

Plant Personnel Shine in Impressive Tour

After touring the plant, the dealers and media were all using similar superlatives – “dedicated employees” . . . “amazing automation” . . . “unbelievably clean.”

The tour started with plant manager Hank Eisenga and team leaders providing an overview. The guests were then walked through highlights of the tire-making process with Eisenga pointing out the advantages of Giti manufacturing processes. Team members at different stations did an excellent job of explaining their individual roles in a total team effort of producing world-class tires in Richburg.

A story after the event in the Chester County News & Reporter, quoted Phang Wai Yeen, Executive Director of International R&D for Giti: “You can have the best machines, you can have the best technology, the best of everything. But at the end of the day, it is the people that makes the difference.”

Maximum Control Ride

The Maximum Control Ride portion of the event began with a presentation by Marketing Director Thomas Okihisa and Senior Executive VP of Consumer Sales Jim Mayfield on the new product, including independent test results showing that the Maxtour LX performed as well or better than the Continental and Hankook tires in such key areas as wet braking, dry handling, ride comfort, etc.

Tire Reviewmagazine, one of four tire trade publications that attended the event, noted in their follow-up story – “Your customers may not know the brand GT Radial, but the company’s management is banking on that changing very soon.” Click here to read the Tire Review story.

Guests were able to experience the dry handling capabilities on the infield road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway with professional drivers at the helm of Toyota Camry vehicles.

This adrenaline-packed ride highlighted the difference between Maxtour LX’s control and stability when facing high-speed cornering versus the two competitors.

“There was no place to hide during this event; the driving characteristics of each set of tires were highlighted under uncompromising conditions,” said Director of Industry Relations David Shelton who helped organize the track events. “Most of the participants clearly recognized the performance advantages the Maxtour LX.”

“I saw a big difference in the performance of the tires, particularly the Hankook and GT Radial,” said Lou Fontana from FCSS.“With the Maxtour LX, the driver didn’t have to fight it like he did with the Hankooks. Secondly, the Hankooks made a lot more noise in the corners. The Maxtour LX was perfect.”

Excelling in the Wet

Wet braking performance is a key attribute sought by consumers for obvious reasons, and wet braking is one of the areas where the Maxtour LX really excels.

In the next event, participants got behind the wheel themselves on a different course to test the wet stopping capabilities of the Maxtour LX versus the competitors.

After navigating several turns on an autocross course, participants were asked to reach a speed of 60 mph on a straightaway, then hit the brakes hard when entering the wet skid pad area. Their speeds and stopping distances were compared. Despite the fact that the drivers were not professionals, the Maxtour LX achieved verifiable shorter stopping distances.

The wet braking performance of the LX was phenomenal,” said Raymond Cadieux. The other tires did well, but the LX was quite superior. I look forward to selling it to my customers.”

According to Thomas Either of Tire Newsmagazine in Canada, “The exercise provided concrete proof which helped back the test data handed out to participants prior to the track test session, as the performance of the Maxtour LX surpassed that of the major competing brands on several fronts, including braking distance.” Click here to read his full story.

Speedway Sensation

To wrap up track activities for the Maxtour LX ride & drive event, both media and our customers had the opportunity to ride in a NASCAR racing car on the high-banked oval of Charlotte Motor Speedway.  With a pro driver at the wheel and deafening rumble of the engine in your ear, passengers experienced speeds exceeding 150 MPH!  As impressive as the high-speed straightaways were, the real thrill came from the pro driver never lifting off the gas and going flat out through the turns!  Going through the high-banking at those speeds allowed you to experience the extreme compression from the g-forces pushing you into your seat!

Most of our guests never experienced anything like this before, so it was an experience of a lifetime leaving everyone with smiles on their faces!  It was truly a fun and memorable way to finish off the driving activities that were part of the highly successful Maxtour LX launch event.  A huge shout out to the folks at NASCAR Racing Experience as well as Charlotte Motor Speedway for helping us put on a safe and exhilarating event.

Hall of Fame Evening

An evening at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in downtown Charlotte proved that “racing” and North Carolina barbecue are a great combination! The Giti guests enjoyed checking out famous race cars in NASCAR lore and competing against each other in simulated racing.

As the group sat down to a traditional North Carolina meal, CEO Tim Fulton thanked everyone for their attendance and their continued support of the GT Radial brand.

Mission accomplished:  The dealer and media guests left Charlotte with confidence that Giti Tire is on the rise in North America, the Richburg plant is a tremendous asset to Giti customers, and the Maxtour LX is a world-class touring tire that dealers will enjoy selling and consumers will enjoy driving on.