What does the new $800 million consumer tire plant in Clarksville, Tenn., do for Hankook Tire America Corp. and its parent company? It “solidifies our presence in the U.S.,” said Seung Hwa Suh, vice chairman and CEO of Hankook Tire Co. Ltd., at the grand opening of the plant on Oct. 17.
The Hankook brand holds 4.5% of the replacement passenger tire market share in the U.S., according to Modern Tire Dealer’s 2017 Facts Directory. In addition, it accounts for 4% of domestic light truck tire market share.
Those percentages could increase now that Hankook has a U.S.-based facility. The company said having the plant in Clarksville will reduce shipping time from three months to one or two weeks.
The new consumer tire facility will be able to produce 5.5 million tires a year when Phase One is completed, perhaps by the end of 2018. When Phase Two is completed, the plant’s capacity will be double that: 11 million tires annually.
The plant, Hankook’s eighth worldwide, is already up and running, producing the Hankook Kinergy PT, a premium touring all-season tire. Plant production already has reached 6,000 tires a day. Three of the Kinergy PT sizes being produced are an H-rated 225/60R17 and W-rated 225/45ZR17 and 235/55R17.
When asked by MTD if he considered the plant an OE tire plant or a replacement tire plant, Suh, without hesitation, said “Both.” He considers his original equipment and tire dealer customers equally important.
The 1.5 million-square-foot plant is located on 469 acres, which Hankook executives say give it room to expand depending on demand. Phases One and Two will focus on consumer tires optimized for the U.S. market, broken out as follows:
* ultra-high performance tires, 50%.
* general passenger tires, 25%.
*light truck tires, 25%.
The property can accommodate at least three additional phases; although possible medium truck tire production and a test track were mentioned as possibilities, Suh says the company is not looking beyond Phase Two yet.
The plant has brought nearly 1,000 jobs to the local economy, a total that is expected to climb to 1,800 as infrastructure expands. That does not include some 200 people who oversee the company’s new headquarters in Nashville.
For more information on the facility and its products, check out these links: