Hankook Announces Increased Environmental Technology Spending
Korea’s Hankook Tire has released details of its plans for an annual total of “at least 12.5 million euros” research and development spending on eco-friendly technology in the coming years. The company noted the industry trend towards decreased rolling resistance and fuel consumption as key concepts to be investigated using the money, while ensuring the sustainability of the manufacturing operation will also take up a key position in the ongoing research.
The announcement, prompted by the current climate of environmental awareness, is set to more than treble Hankook’s current fund for eco-conscious research, with the figure boosted to 0.5 per cent of the manufacturer’s global annual revenue – an increase of 350 per cent. Reportedly the world’s “fastest growing tyre manufacturer”, the firm’s commitment to R&D in this sector is designed to meet the growing demand of the market for ever-greater levels of environmental friendliness.
The news of this significant increase follows Hankook’s prominent placement of its all-season tyre, the Optimo 4S at Reifen 2008 in Essen. As T&A reported last Thursday, the tyre is so far the only one in the world to be awarded the Blue Angel – the German Federal Environment Agency’s eco-award, and perhaps the oldest environmental award in the world. Hankook’s history of ecological awareness in their design work goes even further back; the Optimo K715 was awarded the title of most environmentally-friendly in its class by Stiftung Warentest in 2007, containing the lowest amount of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) in its compound. Scandinavia recognised the company’s eco-achievements as far back as 2004, when Hankook’s Winter I*pike (W409) and Winter I*cept (W605) were awarded the Swan-Ecolabel.
In addition to these past achievements, Hankook is looking to the future beyond the Optimo 4S, and has overseen the Korean release of their new “enfren” tyre. The enfren’s design encompasses a special silica compound and structural features intended to enhance its rolling resistance performance. Hankook’s phrase for these new features is “Kontrol Technology”, reflecting the tyre’s mediation of the interaction between driver, car and road through its combination of the words kinetic and control. Hankook’s own tests suggest that the tyre enables a decrease of 16 per cent in fuel consumption at a steady speed of 110km/h. An international release for the enfren is imminent.
Seung-Do Jin, Hankook’s Executive Vice President and European COO, said of the enfren and the R&D announcement, “Our goal is to develop tyres that offer maximum environmental protection without compromising quality, performance and safety. This is the central concept behind Kontrol Technology… Technology is at the heart of everything we do and this investment represents our commitment and desire to lead the creation and development of next generation, high-performing environmental tyres.”