Hankook’s story is undoubtedly one of extraordinary growth. The South Korean-based manufacturer inaugurated its car tyre plant in Hungary in 2007, which currently produces around 19 million tyres annually. In parallel, the company has succeeded in becoming an OE supplier to nearly all European premium manufacturers. The same applies to truck tyres, albeit to a lesser extent. Even if Hankook only postponed plans to expand its Hungarian factory to include truck tyre production until the end of last year due to economic uncertainties, market observers can see that the tyremaker holds double-digit truck tyre market shares in in many European. For Hankook, this isn’t the end of the success story, but rather the introduction to even more extensive growth. Moving forward, Hankook was respond more fully to the increasingly demanding needs of European truck tyre replacement market customers.
The launch of the second-line Laufenn brand onto the European commercial vehicle tyre market has rounded out Hankook’s offer to fleet customers. Offering a second tier brand – alongside a growing retreading programme via its Alphatread range – can both allow the manufacturer a more extensive product range to cater to each customer’s entire fleet, and also allow Hankook to capitalise on the growing interest in more value-oriented products. The new tyres, which give Laufenn itself impressive market coverage, also help to emphasise one of Hankook’s competitive advantages; the proportion of products under three years old in its TBR portfolio. The timing of the launch could also help to address the economic strife felt by the logistics sector in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Featured in the September issue of Tyres & Accessories, we spoke with Guy Heywood, Hankook’s European marketing and strategy director for its truck and bus business, and UK sales director Paul Emery about how the introduction of Laufenn will help to develop the tyre manufacturer’s commercial business in the UK and Europe.
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Vacu-Lug has become the new retread manufacturing partner for Hankook in the UK. The company signalled its new status by including the manufacturer’s Alphatread retreading brand on its stand at the Commercial Vehicle Show (24-26 April, Birmingham NEC), coinciding with the beginning of production of the Alphatread bead-to-bead retread truck tyre range at the Vacu-Lug factory in Grantham.
Vacu-Lug has begun production of Hankook’s Alphatread truck tyre range at its factory in Grantham, Lincolnshire. The bead-to-bead retread tyre range is designed for medium haul fleets, and consists of four sizes. For drive axles, the R-DH05 is available in 295/80R22.5, 315/80R22.5 and 315/70R22.5 and for trailer axles, the R-TH22 is available in 385/65R22.5.
Hankook’s Commercial Vehicle Show stand contained its CV tyre portfolio, with the recent adapted products for Euro V and VI vehicles taking centre stage. The SmartFlex AH31 and the TL02 trailer tyre were the key products in this respect, while the manufacturer also emphasised its Alphatread, retread range, which was extended with the addition of the popular 315/70R22.5 size, made available in January 2015. Hankook also hosted a football competition on its large Hall 5 stand, run in conjunction with its sponsorship of the UEFA Europa League.