As reported earlier this month, Hankook Tire has released its latest winter products for motorists and Western and Central Europe. And the new tyre line is off to a promising start, with Auto Bild awarding the new tyre its top ‘exemplary’ rating in its winter 2020 comparative evaluation.
Hankook Tire has reported consolidated global sales of KRW 1.4358 trillion (£945.0 million) for the first quarter of 2020, around 12.6 per cent less than in the opening quarter of last year. Operating profit decreased 24.8 per cent year-on-year to KRW 105.9 billion (£69.7 million).
In addition to the recently-announced application of artificial intelligence and digital sensor technology to automate the inspection of newly-manufactured tyres, Hankook Tire aims to improve the production flow in its factories via a new monitoring system that utilises artificial intelligence and IoT technology. It calls this Hankook Condition Monitoring System Plus, or CMS+ for short.
Hankook Tire signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on 16 April with Korean fleet management service provider UB1st. The cooperative relationship between the two companies focuses on creating a new type of fleet management service by combining Hankook Tire’s offline service capabilities with vehicle data collected by UB1st’s platforms, such as UbiKhan.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and digital sensor technology is being employed to automate the inspection of freshly-manufactured tyres at Hankook Tire & Technology’s production facilities. Hankook says its automatic inspection system will improve efficiency and consistency at the final stage of product testing.
A trio of Hankook tyres are recipients of the Red Dot Award 2020 for product design. Hankook Tire shares that the Red Dot Award judges singled out the Hankook i*pike RS2, Hankook Dynapro AT2, and Hankook Dynapro MT2 for this honour.
Hankook Tire will support its product development with a new in-house creative database that offers “unique industry insights and new concepts.” The tyre maker has set up this ‘CMF LAB’ database together with Model Solution, its prototype and manufacturing solutions company. Model Solution will use the CMF LAB as a strategic springboard for new business expansion.
Hankook Tire concedes that its response to last year’s “extremely challenging” business environment and the rapidly-changing trends influencing the tyre industry was “not fully sufficient” to combat downward pressure upon its business. Hyun Shick Cho, vice chairman and chief executive officer of Hankook Technology Group, has addressed this issue in a letter to shareholders, discussing means of responding preemptively to these changing trends.
In measures aimed at enhancing “shareholder-friendly management”, Hankook Tire intends to buy back around KRW 50 billion (£34 million) of its shares over the coming six months and will also “sharply expand” the size of its dividends. In addition, the tyre maker will form a support group for external directors and implement an electronic voting system.
Hankook Tire has become a sponsor of the Nürburgring Endurance Series, the race event at the renown German circuit that previously went by the name VLN Endurance Championship and billed as the largest motorsport championship in the world. The tyre maker hopes this new tie-up will be the start of a “long term partnership” with the retitled, open tyre supply motorsport series.
Truck tyres are joining the ranks of Hankook Tire’s second brand, Laufenn. Hankook Tyre UK will preside over the global launch of these products at this year’s Commercial Vehicle Show, presenting the Laufenn tyres alongside its expanding Hankook commercial vehicle line-up.
Thanks to an extension of the current partnership, Hankook will return in 2020 as official tyre of Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL). As part of the newly-extended contract, the tyre maker will launch what it says will be “one of the biggest consumer promotions ever seen” in the country’s tyre industry; this will run from April to August 2020.
Hankook Tire says it is collaborating with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to further its virtual tyre development work. This involves the tyre maker using the AWS cloud platform to store, process, and analyse huge amounts of data such as that gathered from its recently-introduced Virtual Compound Design (VCD) system, which predicts the characteristics of tyre compounds and finds an optimal combination through artificial intelligence analysis.
For the past four years, Hankook Tire has offered customers in European markets a choice of two tyre brands – its flagship Hankook brand and Laufenn, a range “tailored to different lifestyles and above all meet the needs of price-conscious drivers.” The Laufenn line-up has now been further extended with two new models, the Laufenn S FIT EQ+ for the performance segment, and Laufenn G FIT EQ+ for the touring segment. Both arrive in spring 2020 and replace existing, similarly-named products.