By Albert W Nonto
Hankook World Wide has emerged as the significant tire maker in the world for decades and is going to become leading global player with strong foot hold in research and development to produce best quality product to serve premium market.
Entering Technodome, a newly launched Hankook Tire research and development center (RD) in Daejeon, South Korea is look like step in to science-fiction movie property with very futuristic architecture and ambience, eco-building concept and representing technology advancement. The building materials of the five stories mostly made out of glass. In some corner staffs also work in a spacious room with labs in each room to do research anything about tire, ranging from machinability of rubber, tension test, curing, and mixing chamber test for rubber in order to get the best material while in 3D scanner lab testing on tire’s outlines and design.
Designed by renowned architect Sir Norman Foster, the center will become the hub for its global research centers that has been previously operated in some countries in the world. The $230million building has been one of the important research center in the world to make the seven largest tire maker in the world become leader in the industry in the next ten years.
Hankook has been the significant player in premium tire business for decades supplies some 39 brands cars in the world and 295 car model.
German cars like all new 7 series BMW, Mercedes, are among the cars that has been in partnership for long time. It also expand high performance car such as Audi and Mustang. “Compare to yearly average growth 3 % of the industry, Hankook’s growth has reached 11% last year,” says Vice Chairman & CEO, Hankook Tire, Seung Hwa Suh. In next level the tires for super car like Lamborghini, Ferari, Masserati, and Aston Martin is also underway to be produced.
“Indonesia will become part of the world global strategy and we believe that Hankook brand will gain strong awareness.”
-- Seung Bin Lim, VP Global Marketing Strategy
Hankook Tire World Wide chief executive officer and chief marketing officer, Hyun Shick Cho believes to the strong research and development in material, marketing, future trend will become the key to be competitive and become premium global player. The center says Hyun as implementation of its vision of realizing future driving based on high technology to lead sustainable future by eco-friendly value building and most importantly to fulfilling company’s “proactive culture’, which promotes innovation in daily life.
Before the 70,387 M2 center was officially opened, the Korean chaebol has already operated research centers in Korea, China, Germany, U.S. and Japan. The emergence of Technodome will complete the entire efforts to stay leading in world tire business.” In a very short and simple understanding, the Technodome in Daejeon, South Korea will deals in root or basic research such as materials, while world wide one deals in advance research such as driving habit, marketing trends in those areas,” told Hankook world wide vice president corporate communication, Hyuk –Jin Kwon just recently in Seoul.
The management of the Korean company believes that only technology will lead them to achieve ambition to become real global players. Cho also sees that only by technology one company can define the quality of the product with scientific approach backed with virtual and real testing on the street. While luxurious building and labs is important, the key behind the game still its people. To support its scientist research the company set up cooperation with local universities even open new subject in one university for master degree program in tire sciences.
Growing brand through sports
Hyun understand that to become global player one company has to have strong and well recognized brand that associated with premium class. While working with premium cars brand has been clear, the company is also working with famous foot-ball club such as Spanish Real Madrid and in 2012 sponsored UEFA Europe League and any others events to show its quality and brand status. Sport event has proven the its class as many spectator see it on the screen regularly on TV or prestigious media coverage.
The company also has become regular participant in Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM), motor sport. “In the long run we are planning to support Formula -1 as our long term plan,” says Hyun. He believes that sport activities will create strong impact to grow premium brand with cutting edge technology to its premium customers. “Driving experiences is also substantial,” says Hyun. In total, Hankook has supported of more than 38 events in 13 countries in the world. Since 2011, become exclusive supplier for an important event in motor sport in Germany as well as for Audi Sport TT Cup, FIA F3 Europe League and sponsoring high-end motor racing 24H Series. Hyun believes through the event, will prove its competitive edge in technology and slowly to become leading premium tire.
Hankook has made Indonesia to become one of its production center for global market since 2013 producing of more than 11 million tires/year. While its premium brand Hankook remain its main product as, the company also produces Laufenn and Aurora second tier brand, its tertiary brand Kingstar also made here to supply regional market including in Indonesia. Despite has served world class cars, only few customers here have known Hankook’s quality. “Indonesia will become part of the world global strategy and we believe that Hankook brand will gain strong awareness,” told vice president global marketing strategy, Seung Bin Lim to global press, just recently in Seoul while adds that Indonesia’s has become production center to tackle some Asia’s market mainly ASEAN. Currently most of Indonesia plant’s product is exported to North America and Middle East market serving matured market.
Out of its global manufactures, Hankooks produces of more than 103 million in 2016 tires and expected to reach 120 by 2018 after its Tennessee plant in US is full in operation by the end of this year. Sold to more than 180 countries world wide the company make the wheels from its 7 plants in South Korea, China, Hungary, Indonesia, and US. Research by BrandFinance, displays some 10 biggest tyre maker and with high valuable brands and Hankook was in 7th ranking in 2015. The research company estimates that the company’s brand value has reached of about $1.3billion leave Japanese Bridgestone and France Michelin still at number one and two on table consecutively.
“Compare to yearly average growth 3 % of the industry, Hankook’s growth has reached 11% last year.”
-- Seung Hwa Suh, Hankook Tire Vice Chairman & CEO
Indonesia automotive association (GAIKINDO) notes that compare to others brand, Hankook remain at minor players as market is still led by Japanese product even compare to Syamsul Nursalim GT Radial. As its position in upper market the sales of Hankook for example is limited to certain areas as premium car in Indonesia controls only not less than 1% out of total market. Slowing down in automotive market for the last three years make will also create another challenge to get strong hold in Indonesia’s market.
Seung Bing Lim, sees the challenge for future automotive industry will also push them to think beyond usual strategy. As the population will become aging, and trend of megacity will happen around the world will give them challenge to find a more-friendly product to its customers.
For smart car, electric car for example will need a tire with low noise product, but at the same time cars will be more heavier. So the presence of research development center says Seung become part of strategy to lead the way.
Hankook in Motorsports
Hankook has participated in some world prestigious sport as showcase for the company demonstrates its cutting-edge technology to produce premium quality tires. At the moment Hankook has become official tire suppliers for more than 40 world motorsports event throughout the world.
In 2011, the company made stepping stone to become world class tire maker to show its 20 years track record in the premium tire production to became official supplier for prestigious Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM attracted Germany premium car maker join the race. After 6 years consecutive participation in the events Hankook and ITR – organizer of the event – come into another next three years agreement since 2017 next year.
From 2005 until 2013 Hankook Team – KTR won some Super GT events, one of world biggest grand touring motorsport also another trophy in 24-Hour Nürburging and 24Hours Le Mans, world racing endurance 24 hour test. Another event was US Formula Drift for Hankook Team-Chriss Forsberg and since 2015 has become official partners for 24Hours Series.
In 2015 Hankook has become supplier for world class 24Hour endurance test, while also supplies tire for World Rally Championship (WRC) another motorsports besides F-1 and NASCAR. At home in Korea, Hankook sponsors CJ Super Race in Super 6000 Class.