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Hankook produces first tire at Hungary tire facility

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Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. has started production at its new 500 million euro European production facility in Dunaujvaros, Hungary. It is the company's first production facility in Europe and its fifth in the world.

The plant is a key part of Hankook's plan to double its market share in Europe to 8% by 2010. (First-quarter 2007 sales in Europe were up 23% compared to the same period in 2006.)

"Dunaujvaros's strategic location in the heart of Europe will help capitalize on the growing demand from European customers for our products," said CEO Seung Hwa Suh at the launch ceremony on Tuesday, June 26. "The new facility will give a strong boost to our competitiveness by slashing logistics costs and improving our customer service.

"The shipping time of our product will be reduced from what used to be a minimum of one month's delivery time to delivery within five days to all locations across Europe."

Suh added that it has taken less than a year from the ground breaking ceremony to the production of Hankook's first European-made tire for the European market. The company first announced it was building a tire plant in Europe in 2005 ("Hankook Tire selects Dunaujvaros, Hungary, for new plant," Oct. 31, 2005.)

The official opening ceremony marked the completion of the first phase of the 500 million euro project. (Based on the June 26 exchange rate, the investment totaled $673 million.) The plant will be fully operational in 2010 and will produce 10 million tires annually.

The production facility is producing Optimo K415 and Optimo K715 tires. (Stiftung Warentest, a German consumer safety group, recognized the Optimo K715 as the most environmentally friendly in its class earlier this year.)

Overseas sales account for approximately 70% of Hankook's business. Global sales in the first-quarter increased by 14.6% and sales of ultra-high performance tires grew by 21%.

Hankook also was represented at the official opening ceremony by Hyun Shick Cho, its global chief marketing officer; Seung Do Jin, executive vice president and COO for Europe; and Eung Young Lee, vice president and managing director of the Hungary plant. They were joined by Janos Koka, the Hungarian minister of economy and transport; Eom Seock Jeong, the Korean ambassador in Hungary; and local officials.

For more information, please visit Hankook Tire's Web site at www.hankooktire.com.

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