Lassa tyres are a well known Turkish brand. Aside from being the leading brand in the country, they have more recently made a strong entrance in the European markets. So, how did this company come to be?
The company started around 40 years ago in Istanbul - or, to be more precise, the Besiktas district in Bosphorus. However, before looking at this, it helps to understand an even older company. The brand belongs to - and was created by - the Sabanci Holding.
Established in 1926, and a household name in Turkey, this giant controls over 70 companies, most of which are leaders within their own particular industries. The holding employs nearly 70,000 people and often organises joint ventures with other global giants, including Citigroup, Aviva, Carrefour, Hilton, Mitsubishi Motors and Phillip Morris.
In other words, it’s safe to say that the business spectrum of the Sabanci group is extremely broad. In fact, it covers a plethora of incompatible niches, including the banking, insurance, automotive, construction, telecommunication, textile, hotel and tobacco sectors. So it may seem surprising that such a broad company might later come strongly focus on tyres.
The start of Lassa tyres
Sabanci’s bosses established the Lassa Tyre Manufacturing and Trading Inc. company in 1974. Within months of operating, it reached an international agreement with BFGoodrich. Among other things, this enabled Lassa access to the necessary technological support needed to construct its first tyre factory, which launched in 1975.
Before Lassa’s first models reached the Turkish market, the company also become BFGoodrich’s exclusive representative in the country. This strengthened their cooperation with the American tyre giant, as Lassa would import their tyres from overseas, selling them in Bosporus. Within a year, this resulted in a distribution network comprising of 186 dealers, across 60 provinces.
At this point, preparations were still underway for Lassa to launch its own products, which it did just before the end of 1975. Construction began on a 90,000 square meter factory, complete with modern machinery and production lines. After a test run in 1977, the presidents of Sabanci Holding were well-prepared for a strong market launch. In this same year, a large-scale advertising campaign announced the arrival of the Lassa logo and its brand of tyres.
After their early success in 1977, Lassa tyres went from strength to strength. Production increased on a massive scale in 1978 and, in 1979, the company had produced its millionth tyre. It is during this same period that Lassa became the first tyre company in Turkey to produce radial tyres for passenger cars.
By the end of the 70s, the range included tyres for trucks, buses, agricultural and industrial vehicles, too. Lasse entered the 80s with a premier range of radial tyres, as well as the first bulky OTR tyres in Turkey.
Lassa’s stand at the Autopromotec fair
A new production factory was built in Istanbul and, in 1985, the company constructed a new research and development centre. By 1987, Lassa tyres had exported 5 million units, being sent to 32 countries around the world.
Partnering with Bridgestone
In 1988, the Sabanci Holding reached an agreement with the Japanese Bridgestone tyres company, thus creating a joint venture known as the Brisa Bridgestone Sabanci Tyre Manufacturing and Tracing Inc.
At the time, this was the largest Turkish-Japanese investment in history. This new company was responsible, from then on, for the fate of the Lassa brand. In 1989, as part of a broader cooperation with Turkey, a nationwide network of dealerships began to offer Bridgestone tyres.
Development and investment
In 1991, the Lassa tyre catalogue featured radial tyres for buses and lorries, as well as the first high performance tyres, which were developed rapidly over the following years (the first ultra high performance tyre for passenger cars - the Lassa Impetus Sport - would debut in 2004).
These efforts quickly resulted in the dynamic progress of the company, which was producing 4 million tyres a year by 1995, with 2 million exported. Ten years later, in 2005, the Brisa production complex received an additional investment of $168 million, which would eventually lead the company to expand into a 300,000 m2 area (compared to the pre-existing 260,000 m2 facility), increasing production capacity by 67%.
A Christmas advert for Lassa tyres.
Lassa’s tyres were being highly exported, so that they could be factory fitted to new car models. This cooperation with car manufacturers was the result of various awards, including Toyota’s “2003 Best Scoring Supplier Award” or MAN’s “Top Scoring Supplier Award”.
At the start of the new century, Lassa further extended its range. This time, it began offering tyres for off-road vehicles, such as the Lassa Competus, alongside rally tyres for both asphalt (Lassa Racing) and gravel (Lassa Rally) surfaces.
In 2008, Sabanci and Bridgestone celebrated 20 years of partnership. Around this time, Lassa were exported to more and more countries, with a running total of 55. The Lassa logo, untouched for 30 years, was also revised and the company began to further push its marketing efforts.
This involved a large volume of promotional activity during sporting events. The most obvious is with motorsport cars. Lassa has its own team - the Lassa Tyres Drift Team - that competes in various drift competitions, but this is only a small part of the larger picture.
Lassa tyres are exported to at least 55 different countries.
In fact, Lassa’s main involvement has been with football matches. The brand has collaborated with renowned European football clubs, including Manchester City, Bolton Wanderers, Espanol Barcelona and Borussia Monchengladbach, in addition to being the sponsors for the Italian Serie A league.
Alongside this, there’s also ice hockey (the company sponsored Dinamo Minsk, the leading club of the Continental Hockey League, also known as the “European NHL”) and Turkish league basketball.
Today, Lasso tyres continue to develop and their products can be found in an ever increasing range of markets. If you’re looking for a reliable summer or winter tyre, we have a number of Lassa tyres available in our online store.