NOKIA, FINLAND — A Canadian agricultural invention widely considered a global Cinderella success story is a key ingredient in a new winter tire from Nokian Tyres, helping to give it better grip in snow and on glare ice.
The rubber in Nokian’s latest-generation Hakkepeliitta range of tires is designed to be softer at colder temperatures, aided in large part by using canola oil in the construction.
The oil being used isn’t from Canola in Canada where it has become a major Western crop, but canola wouldn’t exist without the work of two researchers at the University of Manitoba — Baldur Stefansson and Keith Downey — who bred the heart-healthy edible canola oilseed from inedible rapeseed.
Nokian Tyres might not be the world’s biggest tire maker, but it claims to be the most profitable.
Pontus Stenberg, vice-president of sales, said his company’s 1.5 billion Euro ($2.17 billion) in revenue lags well behind competitors who approach or exceed 20 billion Euro ($28.9 billion) in sales, but he said by focusing on its niche — performance in demanding conditions — the small Finnish company maintains margins that would make other companies blush.
“We continue to be the world’s most profitable tire company, 22 per cent at minimum,” Stenberg told an assembled group of 30 Canadian tire dealers at Nokian’s headquarters in its namesake town.