Kumho Tire Production Begins in Georgia
Kumho Tire Co. Inc. celebrated its long-awaited leap into the U.S. manufacturing sector, and its new American hometown in Macon, Ga., with the grand opening of its passenger tire plant on May 2, 2016.
The plant’s capacity is four million tires a year, but already Kumho says the site south of Atlanta is large enough to more than double that capacity over time – to 10 million tires.
Production will focus heavily on original equipment orders, with 80% of capacity dedicated to OE fitments. Kumho says the plant will focus on ultra-high performance tires.
Kumho is working to build its market share in the U.S. Recognizing the importance of its OE partnership with Kia Motors in particular, the CEO and president of Kia Motors in Georgia was among the event’s honored guests. According to Modern Tire Dealer statistics, Kumho represents nearly one-third of the market share of Kia’s OE fitments.
“North America is home to one of the world’s largest auto and tire markets. We believed a production base on this crucial continent is a must if we are to significantly expand our presence in the market in our bid to become a top tire manufacturer.” said Park Sam-gu, Chairman of Kumho Asiana Group.
Construction at the site in Macon began in May 2008, but was halted after the economy faltered. Work resumed in 2014 and tire production is underway.
“A lot of us have been looking forward to this day for a long time, and we're glad this day is finally here,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Neal.
During guided tours after a ceremony, employees referred to the site as a “smart factory.” The plant is highly automated, and RFID tags implanted into the initial tire construction materials allow for tracking of every detail of the tire. A tire can be rolled through a scanner, which rings like a cell phone while in use. Large screens then show a myriad of details about the tire. If there’s a problem with a particular batch, employees can use the scanners to identify and remove the problem tires from the inventory.