Hankook dealers were told that the company is on schedule for the ground-breaking of its new Tennessee tire factory during the second half of this year at the company's annual Partner's Day, being held in Jamaica this week.
Byeong Jin Lee, president of Hankook Tire America Corp., said the company is targeting to start production in 18 months. Hankook is investing $800 million for the factory which Lee said will eventually produce 12 million tires per year and employ 2,000 workers
Shawn Denlein, senior vice president of sales for Hankook, said the parent company had worldwide sales of $6.882 billion in 2013, with goals set to exceed $14.388 billion by 2020. And, by 2018, the company wants to be the fifth largest tire company in the world. Hankook is currently the seventh ranking company with total production capacity of 93.7 million units. Denlein said the company continues to invest 5% of its revenue into R&D that includes five technical centers and 1,000 researchers.
Hankook prefers to build large-scale factories in strategic places because it gives them more flexibility and "we can react to the market more quickly,” says Denlein. He added that the company continues to look at the growth markets of the world as places of opportunity for plants.
Denlein revealed that the company is aggressively moving toward larger diameter tire fitments and is ahead of its competition in the ratio of 17-inch and above tires versus lower sizes.
Looking at plans for the U.S. market for this year, Denlein said the company will continue its support of Major League Baseball (MLB), with signage at 25 of 28 major league stadiums. He also intends to have more television spots in prominent settings, such as MLB playoffs, to increase brand awareness.
The company is in the process of creating a new television commercial just for the U.S. market, a first since the launch of the "Be One With It" campaign started a few years ago.
From a product standpoint, the company is currently launching two new tires, the Ventus V12 evo2, and the Ventus V2 concept 2. In August, Hankook will launch the Ventus evo2 SUV tire and the Dynapro HP2, according to Denlein.
For details on all four of these tires, see our write-up from the the last Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show.