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New Plant, Aggressive Strategy Drive Hankook Forward Going into 2018

2018. 01. 05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 4, 2017) – When you ask a Hankook Tire America Corp. executive what went well in 2017, settle in and get ready for a lengthy list.

          A pivotal year for the company saw the opening of its first North American production plant, the release of a market-leading made-in-USA tire and a sustained brand awareness campaign orchestrated from Hankook Tire’s Nashville headquarters, where it spent its first full year following a move from New Jersey in 2016.

          It all adds up to a significant shift in the company’s focus – an aggressive market penetration strategy aimed at elevating the Korea-based company to the top tier of the American tire market.

          “2017 was an important year for Hankook Tire America Corp., and we are pleased with the success we enjoyed,” said Hankook Tire America Corp. President Hosung Suh. “Now, we turn our eyes to the future as we seek to grow our presence in the American market.”

A New Home Base

          Any conversation about Hankook Tire America has to start in Clarksville, Tennessee, where the company officially unveiled its state-of-the-art production plant in October. The Grand Opening Ceremony, attended by dignitaries such as Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and United States Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, rallied customers, allies and employees in celebration of the 1.5-million-square-foot behemoth.

            The ceremony was the official culmination of years of intensive planning and hiring. When 40 VIPs gathered to cut the ribbon, they were christening a facility that had been ramping up tire production for several months and had already provided a groundswell of economic impact for the surrounding community in the form of approximately 1,000 new jobs.

            “We were honored and excited to celebrate the opening of the Tennessee Plant alongside our friends and partners,” Suh said. “We believe the plant will help sustain the economic health of Northern Middle Tennessee for decades to come.”

            The 469-acre plant serves as a vital instrument in Hankook Tire’s growth strategy. At full production capacity, Phase One of the facility will produce 5.5 million tires per year. The increased volume – manufactured in close proximity to the company’s five U.S. warehouses – aims to escalate sales and simplify distribution channels, allowing Hankook to more efficiently fill the increasing demand for its tires.

            “Having a plant in North America will significantly benefit our sales and distribution strategy in this market,” said Suh. “We have already begun to enjoy the advantages it brings us in the areas of distribution, sales and marketing.”

Energy Produced by the KINERGY PT

            One of those new products, the KINERGY PT (H737), is one of the highest-rated in the American market. The KINERGY is exclusively made at the Clarksville plant and was designed with American drivers’ needs in mind. Hankook launched the tire in September.

            In three short months, the KINERGY PT has received elite marks from reviewers and fueled sales growth for Hankook in the passenger tire segment. The KINERGY PT utilizes a specially formulated tire compound to enhance traction in all conditions and a strong rolling resistance profile to improve mileage peformance.

            “The KINERGY PT is the first of many made-in-America products that aim to shape Hankook Tire’s success in the American market,” Suh said. “It is energizing to read such positive reviews of this innovative product, which was engineered by our world-renowned research and development specialists.”   

Original Equipment Status Soars

            Hankook Tire’s ceiling-shattering success in 2017 wasn’t limited to the replacement tire sector; rather, a series of new original equipment (OE) relationships also helped cement the company’s status as a rising star in the American market.

            In October, the company announced that it would serve as the main OE supplier for the Honda Accord, fitting its KINERGY GT model on one of America’s most popular sedans.

            Nearly simultaneously, Hankook announced that it would also equip select models of the 2018 Toyota Camry with the KINERGY GT. The Camry was the top-selling passenger car in the United States in 2016.

            Hankook also deepened its relationship with Nissan through delivery of an innovative tire for the Nissan Rogue -- the tire company's first in North America with sound-absorbing "silent foam." Nissan will fit the tire on its 2018 Rogue SV.

“Strong original equipment relationships are vital to our success in America, and we are gratified to see automotive manufacturers recognize our commitment to innovation, safety and performance,” said Suh.

Increased Awareness Leads to Higher Brand Value

          Auto manufacturers weren’t the only ones talking about Hankook Tire in 2017. Aggressive marketing campaigns elevated awareness of the company among key audiences.

            Perhaps the most visible initiative was the company’s Major League Baseball signage campaign. The Hankook logo appeared prominently in 27 MLB ballparks.

            Hankook also displayed signage in nine NBA arenas and sponsored the ESPN Wednesday Night Baseball Game of the Week.

Serving Those Who Have Served

            2017 marked the third – and most effective – year of Hankook Tire’s relationship with Disabled American Veterans, an organization committed to providing support to veterans and their families.

            Hankook hosted six mobile service office (MSO) stops at tire dealerships in every major region of the country, from Fayetteville, North Carolina to Yucca Valley, California. The MSO stops served three times more veterans in 2017 than in 2016, when Hankook sponsored four stops.

            “Hankook Tire admires the sacrifice American military veterans have made and wishes to serve them just as they have served us,” Suh said. “Our DAV program is one small way we can show our appreciation and support.”

Rolling Into 2018

            As Hankook gears up for 2018, it seeks to capitalize on a surge of momentum in order to further bolster its burgeoning market position. Production at the Tennessee Plant continues to escalate, the company will unveil new products to satisfy growing demand, and new marketing and PR campaigns aim to deepen the company’s relationship with the public.

            In short, a positive 2017 means that Hankook, a company committed to Driving Emotion, is eagerly driving its way up the charts in the American market.

            “While we are energized by the positive events of 2017, we are not satisfied,” said Suh. “Hankook Tire is hungry for success in America and excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.”