With a sales strategy largely influenced by the street racing culture of Japan, Toyo has cracked into the international mainstream by producing road-specific tires at a low price. While other major tire companies focus on creating wide product lines that cater to every possible customer, Toyo has set itself apart by mostly creating tires for on-road use.
The company doesn’t sell many snow, all-season, and all-terrain models, but what Toyo lacks in width is made up for with a strong product identity. Toyo’s street and city tire lines clearly target an urban market of performance-oriented drivers that spend all of their time on the road. By keeping a narrow product range, the company can excel without spreading itself thinly.
- What Sets Toyo Tires Apart?
- Toyo Design Features
- A History of Toyo
- Toyo in the Tire Industry
- Toyo Warranty Information
- Toyo and Auto Racing
- Toyo Corporate Social Responsibility
- Toyo’s Best Selling Tires
- A List of Toyo Tires Models
What Sets Toyo Tires Apart?
Although larger manufacturers are expected to have a huge range of tires, Toyo’s smaller size means the company has to focus on road and highway offerings. This is not a bad thing—it just means that Toyo knows what it’s good at. When the company began to grow internationally in the eighties and nineties, it specifically kept its lineup lean. They were popular due to their street tire offerings, and as such, they stayed with the strategy of producing those same core products.
As the company has grown, instead of widening its range of tires, it has further honed its offerings. Toyo now has more tires, but instead of these tires servicing new types of customers, they just serve the same customers better. In the last several years, Toyo has begun to release some off-road tires as need demands, but the company mainly sticks to the making rubber for the street. Due to this on-road focus, Toyo has never lost sight of exactly what makes it so successful.
An Origin in Street-Racing Culture
Toyo first expanded as a brand with the popularization of drift racing in the late eighties. As Japanese car culture expanded to enthusiasts, then hobbyists, then regular drivers, Toyo’s reputation spread as well. The Japanese firm even produces the official tire of the Fast and Furious series! While the company’s sporty tires brought Toyo to the international market, the company’s reputation for quality kept them there.
As a Japanese manufacturer, Toyo can sell very reliable and high-quality products at a cheaper price. In their early era, the company’s business model was the perfect recipe to take advantage of the growing international market. Toyo continues to use that same initial international expansion strategy to this day: sell high-quality performance road tires for below-average prices.
Toyo in the Aftermarket
While Toyo does work with several major automakers, most of their consumer tires are sold in the aftermarket. To do this, Toyo collaborates with certain car manufacturers but retains rights to the products after the relationship. This way, the company can focus on pleasing customers instead of big corporate clients.
To see how this dynamic plays out, take the NanoEnergy line. The tire was originally designed for the Toyota Prius, which is one of Toyota’s biggest sellers. Because Toyota wanted some control over how the product was designed, the two companies worked closely together to develop the hyper fuel-efficient NanoEnergy A29. Later, Toyo brought a redeveloped line to the aftermarket with improved technology and a wider range of sizes. Toyo’s hybrid strategy of selling aftermarket tires as well as manufacturer-specific equipment has helped bring new innovations to the direct consumer market.
Toyo Design Features
Silent Wall Technology
With all of their tire designs, Toyo recognizes the need to reduce annoying road noise. On most tires, they accomplish this by using a proprietary technology called Silent Wall. Road noise comes from a phenomenon called pipe resonance, in which air vibrates within the tire to create a whistling or humming noise.
To mitigate this noise, Toyo has designed tires with Silent Wall Technology to feature small serrations on the sidewall which reduce airflow. By curbing this airflow, the tire does not vibrate, and therefore road noise is prevented from reaching the cabin.
Dynamic Taper Design
Toyo has developed a specific tire profile called “Dynamic Taper” which creates a more curved edge of the tire. As a tire goes around a corner, the car’s center of gravity shifts. This weight shift causes the tire to slightly lean over, and traction can be compromised if the lean isn’t accounted for. Toyo solves this issue by tapering the whole contact patch of the tire, meaning that the tread stays fully in contact with the asphalt while cornering.
Elongated High Strength Rubber Design
While doing research to maximize tire lifespan, Toyo discovered that the majority of tire wear is caused by small road imperfections that scratch the surface of the tire. To improve durability, the company needed to make the rubber itself more resistant to scratches.
Toyo engineers achieved this through an innovative manufacturing process which creates an interlinked matrix of rubber. This matrix helps dissipate the energy transmitted by the road, causing the tire to wear down more slowly. The design innovation is one of the reasons Toyo can offer such long mileage warranties.
Adaptive Circumferential Grooves
When designing tires, engineers must find a balance between optimizing a tire to perform well when new as opposed to optimizing a tire that continues handling well into high mileages. Toyo has developed a system to have the best of both worlds. By creating a tire that develops a more aggressive tread over time, engineers have created a product that continues to perform optimally even late in the wear cycle.
The technology functions in a relatively simple way. By creating grooves in the tire that are narrower at the top than the base, when the tire wears, the groove expands. This increases water clearance, tread profile, grip, and poor weather performance as the tire’s rubber wears down.
A History of Toyo
Toyo is the youngest of the three large Japanese tire manufacturers at only around 75 years old. Other Japanese firms, such as Bridgestone and Yokohama, are over 90 years old. Founded right after the Japanese surrender in World War Two, Toyo was able to ride the modernization of Asia to its status today as a multi-billion dollar business.
After 15 years of steady growth, in the 1960s Toyo established a technology department to better compete with innovative American companies. Asian manufacturers were falling behind and no longer had competitive engineering departments. Toyo’s bet on tire tech was successful, and shortly after, the company was able to enter American and European markets.
In the 1990s, tuner and drift culture began to develop in parallel in the US and Japan. As one of the biggest mid-range high-performance tire manufacturers, Toyo was a popular option for this new market of sporty yet budget-conscious car enthusiasts.
In the 2000s, Toyo began to make international acquisitions to help expand its presence abroad. Plants, factories, and distribution centers were expanded in Malaysia, Mexico, Thailand, and China. Toyo has grown much more than other companies in the last 20 years. In 2000, the company was worth around 5 billion dollars. Today, it’s worth over 30 billion.
The success of Toyo lies in its strategic commitment to the products it makes best—road tires for passenger vehicles. The strategically savvy company has expanded slowly and intelligently, pursuing niche growth opportunities that allow the company to continue its reputation for high-value low-cost products.
Toyo’s Sports Sponsorships
In 2014, Toyo looked to make inroads into the Italian market and sponsored the famed soccer team AC Milan. The relationship was successful, and the two organizations had similar performance philosophies that allowed soccer fans to connect with the tire company. In 2019, Toyo further committed to sports in the European market by sponsoring the European Athletics Association, which hosts many sports competitions across the continent.
Toyo in the Tire Industry
While the top 10 biggest tire companies in the world all have complete lineups with tire options for every possible vehicle, smaller companies are forced to specialize to earn a competitive advantage. Toyo, only the 12th largest tire manufacturer, is no exception and chooses to mainly produce products in a road-tire-specific niche.
In recent years, Toyo has successfully expanded into another niche, large SUV tires. While most of their tires are still not off-road oriented, the company has made inroads as larger SUVs have gained market share. As the market grows, Toyo continues to expand its line of SUV-specific tires. The company currently outfits big vehicles like the Ford Expedition, Nissan Titan, Toyota Highlander, and Lincoln Navigator.
Toyo’s Automotive Manufacturing Partners
Even though Toyo sells many tires directly to consumers, the company maintains strong relationships with several international automakers. Toyo collaborates directly with these companies to sell many tire models that are custom made for specific vehicles.
Toyo works mainly with Asian automakers, typically providing tires on smaller vehicles. Toyo works closely with Toyota, collaborating with the fellow Japanese company on eight distinct car models. The company outfits well-known vehicles like the Toyota Corolla, Toyota Yaris, Mazda Mazda3, and Nissan Murano.
Toyo Warranty Information
Toyo’s small size means that it’s unable to provide the extensive roadside assistance programs that companies like Goodyear and Michelin can fund. Overall, Toyo’s warranty coverage isn’t fantastic, but for most drivers, it’s more than adequate.
Mileage warranties are usually quite generous due to Toyo’s lofty production quality standards. The Versado line and other higher-end touring tires are covered up to 80,000 miles. Performance tires generally have warranty coverage of around 50,000 miles. Truck and SUV tires have a range depending on what conditions they’re designed for, but typically expect about 40,000 to 70,000 miles.
Watch out that Toyo is one of the only major manufacturers that still sells tires without any mileage warranty. That’s not to say that a tire won’t come with an expected lifespan, or that it will fall apart in its first mile, but it’s something to be aware of.
500 Mile/45-Day No Regrets Trial
As large tire manufacturers back away from costly trial programs, Toyo continues to offer incredible customer support via a 500 mile or 45-day No Regrets Trial program which allows customers to try tires before committing to a purchase. The program has been remarkably popular, and it has enabled customers to shop for Toyo tires with confidence. It is available at both online and offline retailers.
Toyo and Auto Racing
With a focus on smaller hatchbacks, rallying is a key sponsorship opportunity to showcase Toyo’s racing tires in real-world conditions. Toyo’s first market breakthrough in the 1990s was in the same time period that rallying became modernized, and the company has ridden the rally wave since then.
Toyo’s most successful rally driver is Ken Block, who created the famous Gymkhana racing after a successful World Cup Rally career. The famed driver used Toyo tires in his viral Gymkhana videos that popularized the discipline. You can watch the famous series here.
Trophy Truck Racing
In the last 10 years, Toyo has strategically entered the large SUV and truck market with its wildly popular Open Country tire line. To market and publicly prove their products, the company began to field trophy trucks which race in incredibly demanding off-road endurance races like the Baja 1000.
As a marketing strategy, the move paid off, and Toyo has been able to rapidly expand its line with truck owners that saw Toyo’s success on the racing circuit. The tire company has won the last two Baja 1000 races, which is the best-known Trophy Truck race in the world.
Team Toyo Tires Drift
Drifting was a sport founded in the streets of Japan in the late 1980s. As the style of driving influenced car culture in general, manufacturers began to cater to drivers interested in the discipline. Official racing bodies sprung up and the sport was legitimized, with professional racers participating in a Japanese series called D1GP.
As the series grew, Toyo began to sponsor teams. In the last ten years, the company has further invested in its drift racing presence. Toyo launched their own in-house drift racing team in 2014 and quickly showed why drift racers had been using their tires for years, winning the series in just their second year. The team continues to have success, and in the last few seasons the drivers have raced a Toyota Supra, solidifying Toyo’s relationship with the Japanese conglomerate. The team races on the Proxes line of tires.
Team Toyo Vehicle Sponsorship
Toyo works hard to keep a loyal customer base. One of the strongest market niches that the company has is the tuner and performance market. To remain active in the community, Toyo sponsors prominent car community members to keep a presence in the car swap and car show scene.
The brand works with more than 100 influencers that participate in many subcultures of the car enthusiast world. Most commonly, Toyo-sponsored drivers can be seen at tuner, off-road, and classic car club events. If you want to be sponsored, Toyo has an open application, so if you’re a Toyo enthusiast that spends a lot of time in the car community, apply here.
With more and more of the industry pushing for sustainability, Toyo has recently added itself to the list of major tire manufacturers taking environmentalism more seriously. Along with certifying 13 manufacturing sites to the strict ISO 14001 environmental standards, in 2015 Toyo took the additional step of setting specific benchmarks to guide environmental movement forward within the corporation.
These goals push Toyo towards a more sustainable future. In the last five years, Toyo has reduced carbon emissions by 15%. The company now has a 100% recycling rate and has reduced volatile organic compound emissions by 50% compared with 2000. Finally, Toyo has continued to design more fuel-efficient tires which reduce the global environmental impact of customers as well as the impact of the company’s supply chain.
Harmony With Local Communities
As a reflection of Toyo’s Japanese cultural heritage, in July 2019 the company unveiled a new framework by which to improve its stakeholder communities. This initiative encompasses ideas from environmental sustainability to economic growth, and sets a clear precedent for Toyo to value as well as improve the society in which it operates.
To accomplish community improvement, the company engages in dialogue with stakeholders and sets committees and benchmarks for interaction and improvement. Since the initiative began, Toyo has been warmly greeted in stakeholder communities.
Toyo’s Best Selling Tires
The Proxes tire line contains Toyo’s most recognized and acclaimed technology. These tires are renowned by street-racers and tuners for good urban performance and excellent durability. The range of tires is wide, and the line extends from passenger all-season tires to street-legal race tires like the Proxes R1R.
- Proxes 1: The Proxes 1 regularly rolls through the dreams of drift racers. It’s one of the finest street-legal race tires available anywhere with best-in-class traction and good durability for being such a soft tire.
- Proxes A37: The Proxes A35, while still having some sporty characteristics, is an all-season tire that performs well even in light snow conditions. Featured on the Toyota Camry, it’s a workhorse with a long treadwear warranty.
Originally released to be a hyper-fuel-efficient option installed on Toyota Priuses, the NanoEnergy is now a popular replacement option for smaller cars. While the tire is remarkably successful at saving gas, it makes some compromises on performance and ride comfort.
- NanoEnergy 3: With an updated tire tread compound, the NanoEnergy 3 uses a new construction to further improve fuel economy. Also upgraded is the tire’s tread life and wet weather performance.
- NanoEnergy A41: The NanoEnergy A41 solves some of the performance woes of the original NanoEnergy model with improved traction and handling. Performance comes at an increased price; the tires are well over $400 for a full set.
The Versado line of tires is Toyo’s set of on-road rubber meant for luxury vehicles. The tire is fuel-efficient, comfortable, and hums quietly along at speed. The long-wearing touring rubber has a sturdy warranty of between 65,000 and 75,000 miles depending on the model.
- Versado Noir: At a slightly premium price, the Versado Noir utilizes silica in its rubber formulation to increase grip and fuel efficiency at the same time. It’s a good replacement option for any large sedan.
- Versado Eco: The Versado Eco skips some luxury touches for better fuel efficiency. It uses the same silica-based compound as its older brother, the Versado Noir. The compound can save up to $150 in gas costs over a 70,000-mile lifespan.
Open Country Line
As the SUV and crossover markets grow, Toyo has used the opportunity to expand its product range and international presence. The company originally debuted the Open Country line to little fanfare, but the line has proven to be successful and enduring, now equipping SUVs from companies like Dodge, Toyota, Nissan, and Infiniti.
- Open Country A25A: With the latest wave of crossovers hitting the United States market, Toyo launched the Open Country A25A as an offering for smaller SUVs that value on-road handling above off-road capability.
- Open Country A26: Made for big SUVs like the Nissan Pathfinder, the Open Country A26 sits at the heavy-duty end of the Open Country line, mostly meant for large SUVs that are doing a mix of on-road and off-road driving.
A List of Toyo Tires Models
Race Performance Summer Tires
Ultra High Performance Summer Tires