Kumho Broadens its OE Horizons
Kumho has been a significant supplier to OEMs in its home market of Korea for many years. Recently, however, the company has taken a number of strides towards securing deals with major automotive manufacturers in Europe and the US. To that end, Kumho have set up offices in Birmingham, Hamburg and Detroit, as well as an office in Tianjin, China.
The tyremaker’s breakthrough in Europe came in 2001, when Kumho won the contract to supply 200,000 tyres a year to Volkswagen AG for the 2002 model year Polo. Though this was the company’s first ever European contract, it was not the first association with Volkswagen, to whom it already supplied tyres for the Mexican built Beetle. More recently, Kumho was selected by DaimlerChrysler AG to supply tyres for the second generation Mercedes Benz A-Class model. The development programme for this contract was led by Kumho’s Birmingham based European Technical Centre (KETC) and the main focus was ride refinement whilst maintaining suitable levels of wet and dry performance as well as a low rolling resistance. The result was a new tread compound and carcass material for the Kumho SOLUS KH15.
Kumho’s other Europe OE fitments currently include: Volkswagen Fox, Polo, Caddy; Mitsubishi Colt; Kia Picanto, Carens, Magentis, Sorento and Rio models; Hyundai Tucson, Coupe, Trajet, Matrix, Sante Fe, Sonata, Getz, Accent and Terracan models; Chevrolet Kalos, Captiva and Matiz models and Ssanyong Rodius, Kyron and Rexton models.
It has been 32 years since Kumho entered the US replacement tyre business, but their first OEM contract with a US car manufacturer only took effect last November, when the Chrysler Group selected the ECSTA KH11 for global fitment to the Chrysler Sebring. The tyremaker claims it now has sufficient plant capacity and an appropriate dealer network to increasingly challenge for major OE business in this market.
Earlier this year Kumho’s Road Venture KL78 became an OE fitment to the US market version of the Mercedes Benz Sprinter van, which is sold under both the Dodge and Freightliner brand names in the US. The KL78 is part of Kumho’s range of Road Venture light truck tyres and features an improved tread design that enhances cut and chip resistance and nylon reinforcement for increased durability.
Although no specific names have been mentioned, Kumho claims that further announcements of OE contracts can be expected in the very near future.