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Tire makers

Hankook Tire poised to supply for Tesla’s EV trucks

Nov 19, 2020 (Gmt+09:00)

South Korea’s three leading tire makers are seeking a greater share of the global electric vehicle (EV)-only tire market, which is expected to grow to $178 billion over the next six years.

Analysts say the companies are jockeying to win more contracts from EV makers amid industry forecasts that eco-friendly cars will account for at least half of total vehicles sold globally by 2030.

Hankook Tire's latest EV tire brand Kinergy EV

Hankook Tire & Technology Co., the country’s largest tire maker, recently launched a task force to jointly develop tires with Tesla Inc. for its Cybertruck electric pickup, according to industry sources on Nov. 19.

Both sides are conducting a joint research and development project to make tires for the EV pickup and chances are good that Hankook Tire will be named a supplier for the off-road utility truck, they said.

“Hankook Tire’s technology has already been proven with its tire supplies for the Tesla Model 3. The company will likely get this contract too,” said an industry source.

Hankook Tire, the world's seventh-largest tiremaker by sales, has been supplying Ventus S1 evo3 EV tires to the US electric car giant for the Tesla Model 3, the most affordable version of its popular electric sedan, since 2017.

Tesla Inc.’s Cybertruck electric pickup

DIFFERENT TECHNOLOGY

EV-only tires require different technologies than those of general tires.

Unlike internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, electric cars don’t produce engine noise, which makes road noise seem louder when tires touch road surfaces. So noise reduction technology is applied to EV-only tires.

In addition, heavy batteries give higher loads to electric cars compared to ICE vehicles, so EV tires must have greater durability.

Hankook Tire said it is using aromatic amide, commonly known as aramid, a ballistic protection material, in its EV tires to strengthen durability.

The company is also contacting other global car manufacturers such as BMW and Audi to supply EV tires.

Recently, the Korean company reportedly signed a deal to supply tires for Porsche's first pure EV Taikan, scheduled for release at the end of 2020, under an original equipment manufacturing (OEM) scheme.

Hankook Tire supplies tires for Porsche's first pure EV Taikan

A Hankook Tire official declined to confirm such reports but said the company is strengthening cooperation with several global automakers on various EV models.

Other Korean tire makers are also aiming to increase their supplies of OE tires to global EV makers.

Kumho Tire Co., the country's second-largest tiremaker, plans to set up a task force to secure OE supply contracts from electric carmakers.

Currently, Kumho is the sole provider of EV tires for Renault Samsung Motors Corp.’s SM3 Z.E. sedan.

Nexen Tire Corp., which supplies tires for Hyundai Motor Co.’s Kona EV SUV and Kia Motors Corp.’s Soul EV model, has signed a supply contract with Canoo Holdings Ltd., a US EV startup.

TIRE MAKERS SEE NEW GROWTH MARKET 

Analysts said the EV tire market has huge growth potential as such tires currently account for less than 1% of total tire sales globally. Demand for replacement equipment (RE) tires is also growing at a fast pace in line with robust sales of electric cars in the past few years.

Kumho Tire's Wattrun EV tires

According to market research firm Reports and Data, the global eco-friendly vehicle tire market is forecast to grow to 197 trillion won ($178 billion) by 2026.

“The tire market has been stagnant for years. For many tire makers, electric vehicles will be a new growth market that can determine their future,” said an industry official.

Write to Sun A Lee at suna@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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