Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. launched a global brand with lines for the passenger, UHP, on- and off-road SUV/LT and winter markets in Las Vegas during the 2014 Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week. Laufenn brand tires will be available in the U.S. in March 2015 in sizes covering up to 75% of the U.S. market.

The new brand proves Hankook’s vision to grow in the global automotive market, according to Hyun Bum Cho, president, chief marketing officer and chief corporate management officer. He says the Laufenn tires will start as a Tier Three brand in terms of price. He expects the Hankook brand to eventually become a Tier One brand and Laufenn to become a Tier Two brand. The company will phase out the Aurora passenger tire brand but continue to offer Aurora medium truck tires.

“If you see a Tier Three, especially in the United States, you have an overflow of Chinese brands and some Indonesian brands,” says Cho. “These brands are rarely properly branded with a consistent story and there are questions about the quality and supply chain management issues.

“But I think we have shown the market our ability to manage our supply chains, and we decided to leverage that. Hopefully, in the future the Hankook brand will go up to the First Tier brand, and we will bring the Laufenn brand up to the Second Tier brand. We have the experience of raising the Hankook brand from a Third Tier to Second Tier brand.”

Five lines for many driving needs

The company says the Laufenn brand offers consumers seeking value, quality and style a wide range of products for a variety of driving conditions. The brand name is taken from the German word for “run” and the brand’s marketing slogan is “Journey in Style.” Five tire lines will be offered.

  1. Laufenn S Fit AS is a UHP tire with a 45,000 mile warranty available in 12 sizes for 17-inch fitments and nine sizes for 18-inch fitments.
  2. Laufenn G Fit AS is an all-season touring tire with a 60,000-mile tread life warranty available in one 13-inch size, five sizes for 14-inch fitments, 10 sizes for 15-inch fitments, 10 sizes for 16-inch fitments, and one size for 17-inch fitments.
  3. Laufenn X Fit HT, an SUV and light truck tire for on-road conditions with a 60,000-mile tread life warranty, is available in one size for 15-inch fitments, four sizes for 16-inch fitments, five sizes for 17-inch fitments, and three sizes for 18-inch fitments.
  4. Laufenn X Fit AT is an SUV and LT tire for on- and off-road conditions with a 45,000-mile tread life warranty. It is available in metric and LT-metric sizes. Metric sizes include one size for 15-inch fitments, five sizes for 16-inch fitments, five sizes for 17-inch fitments, and one size for 18-inch fitments. LT metric sizes include one size for 15-inch fitments, three sizes for 16-inch fitments, and four sizes for 17-inch fitments. A flotation size for 15-inch fitments is available.
  5. Laufenn I Fit Ice is studdable and available in two sizes for 14-inch fitments, seven sizes for 15-inch fitments, five sizes for 16-inch fitments; six sizes for 17-inch fitments; and two sizes for 18-inch fitments.

Shawn Denlein, senior vice president of sales for Hankook Tire America Corp., says Hankook dealers are excited about the Laufenn brand. “For us it seemed very logical to introduce a second brand. We were growing the Hankook brand but to have another brand to hit certain targets we have for volume, we felt there was a need.” Denlein says Laufenn tires will be priced below the Hankook brand. The company projects first-year unit sales to be 10% of its business.

“Our intention is to grow the brand over the next two years. In 2020 our strategy is to make Laufenn a Tier Two product. We go about doing that by creating a full line, a brand story, a reliable product, a sustainable brand and a very intense marketing communications plan,” says Denlein.

Following the U.S. launch, Hankook will offer the tire in 10 strategic markets across North America, Latin America and Asia-Pacific. The brand will also expand to Europe and other regions in the coming years. The company expects to reach market share of over 1% within five years in all major strategic markets worldwide.   ■

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