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Up close: Hankook's new e3 Technology

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Over the last several years, Hankook Tire America Corp. has made a concerted effort to ramp up its medium truck tire business. The company has introduced new products, expanded its sales force and shifted to a warehouse-based distribution system. Hankook’s latest salvo is the unveiling of its e3 (pronounced “e-cubed”) Technology for medium truck tires.

The technology is designed to “increase fuel economy (energy), allow for improved fuel savings and wear performance (economy), and minimize harmful carbon dioxide discharge (environment),” say company officials.

In this exclusive interview, two Hankook executives – Brian Sheehey, director, commercial tire group, and Ray Labuda, vice president of tire technology – discuss e3 Technology with Modern Tire Dealer Senior Editor Mike Manges.

MTD: What are the critical elements of e3 Technology?

Labuda: e3 spins off of our Kontrol Technology approach. What it involves is a pretty comprehensive combination of different technical elements. It goes back to the methods of designing our truck tires and predicting the performance of our truck tires before they go to a mold. We’re trying to maximize fuel economy with contour management… trying to optimize not only rolling resistance, but also retreadability and tread wear.

A lot of people think of treads as the largest contributor to rolling resistance, but you have to worry about the whole tire’s contribution. So we’ve developed compounds to improve the fuel efficiency of the tire.

MTD: What are the take-home benefits of the technology?

Labuda: It would show up in cost-per-mile. Certainly with diesel prices the way they are, that’s important. Lowering (a tire’s running) temperature also results in long-term retreadability. Those are things you can put in your pocket that will help your bottom line.

MTD: How long has e3 been in development?

Labuda: It’s more of an evolution than a specific development. These are things we’ve been working on for probably five to seven years. They all have come to fruition at different times. At this point, we thought that with some of our latest tread compounds we could package it up and give it the e3 name.

MTD: What tires will contain e3 Technology?

Sheehey: It’s going to be in our line-haul products. It’s going to start off with the AL11 and the DL09, our upcoming line haul steer and line haul drive tires.

MTD: When will those tires be available?

Sheehey: The first sizes of the drive tire are planned for the late fourth quarter of this year/early first quarter next year. That would be the low-profile 22.5-inch sizes. Then it’s going to follow suit through the beginning of the first quarter and second quarter. As we get rid of one size, we’ll introduce a new size, so the transition will be seamless.

MTD: Any plans for a trailer application?

Sheehey: It’s coming.

"Green" is a sellable concept to line-haul fleets, says Sheehey. “It’s one of those things where regulations, technology and the end result all blend together for savings for everyone. No tire manufacturer is going to invest (in green technology) unless it’s going to save (the customer) money.”




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