Happy birthday Falken: 40 Years of Performance
Falken Tyre Europe celebrates its 40th anniversary this year – marking the occasion with a milestone event which included speeches from Tomohiko Masuta, Senior Executive Manager, CEO and Managing Director of Falken Tyre Europe and Dr Felix Schwenke, Mayor of Offenbach.
The company launched its first tyre – the FK06C – in 1983, before opening its first central warehouse in Dortmund housing only 15,000 tyres at the time. Nevertheless, the subsidiary of Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd.(SRI) got off to a flying start, developing rapidly.
'Falken - 40 Years of Performance’ is the motto for the anniversary year which culminated in a birthday celebration in the classic city of Frankfurt - just a short drive from Falken Tyre Europe’s ‘home’ in Offenbach, where the brand established itself back in 1988.
“The Falken brand was born with a specific target – to be the high-performance line for our parent company, SRI, delivering high quality and value to customers around the world," explains Markus Bögner, Managing Director and President of Falken Tyre Europe. "Even after 40 years of exciting developments in tyre technology, automotive growth and innovation, our principles of high performance, great value, and exceptional quality apply unreservedly across all our premium products."
One of the highlights from Falken's 40-year history is undoubtedly the creation of the motorsport division in 1985, and the philosophy of ‘from the racetrack to the road’ remains the mantra to this day. With the opening of the Offenbach location in 1988, Falken was three years ahead of the USA in Europe, underlining the importance of the European market – even though Falken Tyre Europe was only founded in 2008. Now, the company supplies more than 8,000 dealers, vehicle manufacturers, and tyre fitting companies across the continent – with over two million Falken and SRI branded tyres stored in 20 cutting-edge warehouses across Europe.
At the same time as moving into its Offenbach location, Falken also introduced the now iconic teal and blue livery – which is instantly recognisable amongst motorsport fans today. With its first championship win – the Mirage Cup International series – in Japan in 1988, Falken’s reputation as a manufacturer of high-performance products was permanently cemented. Since then, many successes on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife – including a podium finish at the 24-hour race in 2015, – have seen Falken firmly establish itself on the competitive stage.
It is not only on track that Falken stands for consistency and trust. The important values at Falken Tyre Europe include teamwork and passion, not to mention the desire for success. This has led to cooperation with Liverpool FC and other major European sporting outfits, including the Bundesliga Supercup, World Handball Championships, ski teams, the Red Bull Air Race and The Nines – with Falken’s brand recognition growing in tandem.
Not to be overlooked is the blend of quality and customer support through which Falken's role as an original equipment manufacturer has grown over time. In 2012, the Sincera tyre was named as a standard factory fit for the VW up! - whilst Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Porsche are also trusting Falken tyres. The brand’s first run-flat tyre was launched in 2014 and currently the e ZIEX – specifically designed for hybrids and EVs – features innovative technologies to extract the most efficiency for their users.
Finally, excellent results in tests by independent trade magazines such as Auto Bild or institutions such as the ADAC can be seen as proof of innovative strength and technological leadership. Honours such as the current "Tire Technology International Award for Innovation and Excellence" and the "R&D Breakthrough of the Year" award also SRI and Falken.
As the fifth largest tyre manufacturer in the world, SRI places great importance on sustainability alongside its practical product characteristics. Falken has been producing tyres from 97 per cent non-fossil material since 2008 – and aims to produce durable tyres made entirely from sustainable materials by 2050. It helps that SRI has access to the most powerful supercomputer in Japan., In addition, artificial intelligence has long been used as part of R&D, and that intensive work is ongoing into special sensor technologies. Sustainability is manufacturing is another area of focus; SRI will commission the world’s largest rooftop solar panel installation on a single facility – the size of 18 football fields – at its Thai plant next year.
Despite all the success at an international level, Falken Tyre Europe knows that none of this would have been possible without the right colleagues. From three initial employees in Offenbach, that number today has risen to 225 people who each work with great dedication for success. Since 2015, the Offenbach City Tower has provided the ideal base thanks to its convenient location in the middle of Germany, close to Frankfurt airport and Hanau – where researchers and developers work towards Falken’s successful future. In addition to many specialists working in European sales, a production facility for Europe was built in Turkey in 2015 and UK wholesaler, Micheldever, was acquired in 2017.
"We owe our success to our colleagues. I have been particularly impressed by how they have mastered the challenges of recent years – such as Brexit and Covid," explains Markus Bögner. “Together with customers, fans of the brand and our colleagues, a unique community has been created – the FalkenFam – which is looking forward to the next 40 years with confidence.”