Author: Gordon Platt

Company to Watch: Hankook Tire/South Korea

Hankook Tire, South Korea’s largest tire-maker, in November selected Dunaujvaros, Hungary, which is about 40 miles south of Budapest, as the site for its first European factory. The $600 million plant is scheduled to start operation in 2007, with the final phase of construction to be completed by 2010.

The company made its choice after reviewing possible plant sites in Central Europe, including Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia to supply tires to European markets. In 2008, Hankook Tire’s production volume will reach 70 million units, making it one of the world’s top five producers.

The new plant in Hungary will have 1,500 employees and will produce 10 million high-performance tires annually for passenger cars and light trucks. By building a plant in Europe, Hankook says it hopes to avoid EU political problems regarding imports and the dangers of exchange-rate fluctuations.

Hankook currently produces more than 58 million tires a year from two plants in South Korea and two in China. It exported $317 million worth of tires to Europe last year, accounting for about 37% of its worldwide exports. Its exports to Europe are expected to rise 26% this year to about $400 million.

Gordon Platt