While most tyre manufacturers are evolving their approach to building ranges of electric vehicle tyres, with specialism not always the preferred route, a small number of tyre-makers were quick off the mark with new product lines. Korean manufacturer Kumho was one of the small number to bring an all-new product to the electric vehicle replacement tyre market, entering the burgeoning segment in 2016 with the Wattrun VS31. The tyre garnered several accolades for pioneering design work, including both the prestigious German Red Dot Design Award and American Green Good Design award. Now Kumho’s strategy is to bring its EV line more directly into alignment with its existing passenger car tyre brands; the Wattrun VS31 pattern has now been superseded by the Ecsta PS71 EV, the company’s next generation electric vehicle tyre.
Plans for two Saudi Arabia tyre factory projects were announced during 2022. In January 2022, Black Arrow Tire Company (Blatco) agreed to a tyre factory construction joint venture with Kumho. By June 2022, Kingdom Tyres, which describes itself as Saudi’s largest tyre producer, signed a provisional investment agreement with the Royal Commission for Jubail & Yanbu. Here Tyres & Accessories considers the latest developments with both projects and asks if the market is big enough for both factories?
During 2023 Kumho Tyre is significantly expanding its truck tyre distribution channels in the UK in order to increase availability. Direct supply has recently been launched from Kumho’s GB warehouse stock and the company reports that it is “actively seeking to partner with specialist truck tyre businesses focused on sales to fleets and other end users”. A national sales manager for truck tyres has also been appointed to lead Kumho’s development programme in the UK commercial tyre market.
As of 1 July 2023, Stephan Brückner is responsible for Kumho Tire’s original equipment business with all German vehicle manufacturers as Senior Sales Account Manager. He joins Kumho from Hankook Tire Europe, where he most recently served as OE Account Manager.
This month, Kumho Tire begins a global advertising campaign to promote its tyres for electric vehicles. The ‘Your EV Partner, Kumho Tire’ campaign will feature on online streaming services and various social media, including Kumho’s own ‘Ecsta TV’ YouTube channel.
Kumho Tire has become the Official Tire Partner of AC Milan in a new long-term partnership in which the South Korean manufacturer becomes one of the club’s Rossoneri Premium Partners. Kumho is replacing its compatriot Nexen, which previously had a tyre partnership with the august club. All three of South Korea’s global tyre manufacturers, the largest being Hankook, have utilised the marketing opportunities offered by elite-level football to bolster their brand recognition and premiumisation strategies in Europe and beyond. Demonstrating its potential influence, the Milanese club claims “500 million fans worldwide.”
An annual five-a-side football tournament involving its customers and legends of the beautiful game is one of the many benefits of Kumho Tyre’s long-term partnership with Tottenham Hotspur. This year’s money-can’t-buy experience saw eight teams battling for glory at the Club’s Training Centre in Hotspur Way, with players travelling from across the UK and as far afield as the North of Scotland to participate.
The PorTran CX11 joins the KC53 and CW51 as Kumho’s comprehensive van tyre range. The latest light commercial vehicle product is an all-season tyre for vans and light commercial vehicles. It was created by combining the strengths of the company’s much-praised all-season Solus 4S HA32 passenger car pattern and its existing winter specification van tyre, the PorTran CW51. The result is the PorTran 4S CX11 that ensures safe, secure driving and excellent braking performance throughout the year.
Recently, the tyre manufacturer Qingdao Doublestar received the “Commitment on Delaying the Resolution of Horizontal Competition” from the controlling shareholder Doublestar Group. Doublestar Group stated that “it is not yet ripe for solving horizontal competition through asset injection, which is not conducive to the rights and interests of Qingdao Doublestar, and there is great uncertainty”. It is reported that Doublestar Group has decided to extend the fulfilment period of the original commitment for three years to July 5, 2026. Tyrepress China learned that the Doublestar Group also mentioned that it is “looking for other solutions that are more conducive to solving horizontal competition and can promote the development of Qingdao Doublestar”.
To aid its development of eco-friendly tyres, Hankook Tire & Technology has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with petrochemical company Kumho Petrochemical Co., Ltd. (KKPC). Amongst other things, the MoU ensures Hankook Tire is first in line to receive KKPC’s Eco Solution-polymerised Styrene-Butadiene Rubber (Eco-SSBR) at “a fair price” once commercial its production commences in 2026.
Kumho Tire shares that its performance in the all-important European market has recently shown strong growth. First-quarter sales for 2023 were up 92% on those of the same period last year at €165 million, while the quarter-on-quarter figures rose by a solid 15%. Impressive as these results are, the company views them as “just the first stage” in a period of sustained investment which it anticipates will result in ongoing growth within the region.
At the start of April, Richard Lyons became executive managing director of Kumho Tyre UK. Lyons joins the company after roughly seven years with Trelleborg Wheel Systems in a variety of roles, latterly as managing director UK and Ireland. Before that, Lyons spent around 11 years with Giti where he oversaw significant growth at the company and rose to the role of managing director Europe and director – International sales and marketing, passenger car.
While tyre retail sales volumes in Russia reportedly declined 16% year-on-year in Q1 2023, to 3.2 million units, sales value dropped 42%. The growing popularity of lower-priced tyres partially explains this larger decrease in turnover, and imports from China and Korea rose significantly. An expert from one association nonetheless still recommends European tyres, even though they’re hard to find and expensive.
Qingdao Doublestar’s 2022 annual report shows stable revenues and growing losses. While operating income amounted to 3.91 billion yuan (£460 million), an amount fundamentally unchanged from the previous year, the bottom line net loss attributable to shareholders grew 87.93% year-on-year to 601.9 million yuan (£70.82 million).