Hankook used the recent 2018 IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hanover, Germany to demonstrate its status as a global player in the commercial vehicle sector.
Hankook Steps Forward with OE Fitments and New Innovations
This will, of course, be of no great surprise to the Korean manufacturer’s fleet customers in the UK. It is several years now since the UK tyre market became aware of the fact that Hankook had managed to obtain leadership of the local truck and bus tyre replacement sector. At the time, this was a revelation – that a manufacturer outside of the globally recognised top three or four had managed such an achievement – almost by stealth it seemed, but when you speak to Hankook UK’s sales and marketing team you realise how they did it – an excellent product backed up by an experienced team of truck tyre marketing professionals who targeted and had success with the smaller and medium sized fleets, while their competitors were focused on battling it out for the larger fleet contracts.
The company’s presence at IAA was all about showing that this remarkable success was no fluke, and that the company is truly a global player in the truck tyre market.
Paramount among the messages being disseminated at the show was Hankook’s status as a global top tier manufacturer with extensive OE fitments.
Hankook was emphasising its OE supply relationships with the likes of MAN, Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Scania and Schmitz-Cargobull. The company was also showcasing a new tyre line-up for mild on- and off-road use as a world premiere. Having likewise become a player in the bus segment, Hankook was also presenting a future oriented extension of its bus portfolio.
In their press pack issued at the IAA show Tony Lee, Hankook Tire Europe’s Vice President for Marketing and Sales is quoted as saying; “Since more than a decade the commercial vehicle segment has become of strong significance for Hankook’s overall business, especially on the European continent. We grow in regards to our OE partnerships, our fleet co-operations and product line-ups. Having adjusted all truck and bus tyre production and supply chain some time ago, we have prepared ourselves strategically for further prosperity. Thus, we are not affected by the anti-dumping duties, recently initiated by the European Commission.”
Hankook’s message in Hanover was certainly heavily dominated by the company’s OE relationships, particularly with their key OE customers, Daimler, MAN, Scania and Schmitz Cargobull.
With Daimler, Hankook announced new OE bus fitments on the Mercedes-Benz models Citaro and Conecto as well as on SETRA brand city buses. The new fitments – AU03+ in size 275/70 R 22.5 – brought the number of OE fitments for the European market to 43, including the complete Mercedes-Benz Actros family and Atego series, thereby resulting in a fourfold increase in the number of OE fitments supplied to Daimler trucks and buses since the cooperation began in 2014.
Hankook also supplies 41 OE sizes to MAN in the 17.5, 19.5, 22.5 and 24-inch range as well as seven SmartWork treads for all Scania models designed for use on construction sites, including their new XT generation of construction vehicles. In addition, Hankook and the trailer manufacturer Schmitz Cargobull have been working together since 2013. The Europe-wide cooperation covers the OE fitment of eleven different trailer models, as well as strategic cooperation in the fleet business and the full-service business. In 2016 the two partners extended their cooperation by three years.
Hankook also focused on some of its latest innovations in Hanover, including the launch of the Smart City AU 04+, the company’s first tyre specification for electric buses and extensions to the company’s existing tyre line for use on construction sites, Hankook SmartWork.
In discussing Hankook’s success in the European commercial vehicle tyre market, Tony Lee emphasised that Hankook’s success has been primarily down to product quality, which has led to the company’s range being well accepted by its customer base.
“To deliver best performance to end users is key,” said Lee. “Our growth has been steady, but we have built valuable relationships with our customers, visiting fleets rather than focusing on distributors.”
On the subject of the ongoing price pressure in the truck and bus tyre market, Lee admits that there may well be a need for Hankook to develop a mid-range brand in the not too distant future. That said, Lee also expressed the desire to increase retread sales.
“In the UK, Spain and Italy, Hankook retreads are produced locally,” said Lee. “We also recently announced the acquisition of German retreader and tyre dealer, Reifen Mueller, which adds to our retreading capabilities. Overall, we expect retread sales to go up.”