Hankook Tire to Set Up Plant in Tennessee

October 10, 2013

(Yonhap) Hankook Tire Co., the world’s seventh-largest tire maker by sales, has decided to set up a plant in the state of Tennessee, a senior U.S. auto industry official said Wednesday.

Senior officials of the South Korean tire maker plan to visit the southern state next week to sign a memorandum of understanding (M.O.U.) with U.S. officials concerning the building of a plant near Nashville, the official said on condition of anonymity as no official announcement has been made yet.

In Seoul, a spokeswoman for Hankook Tire said she could not immediately confirm the plan.

Last month, Suh Seung-hwa, vice chairman and CEO of Hankook Tire, said his company will make a final decision on the plant site among a group of candidates that includes Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee by the end of this year. Suh said the proposed plant, which would have an annual production capacity of around 10 million units, is designed to boost his company’s market share in the U.S., which currently stands at five percent.

His comments came just days after Kumho Tire Co., South Korea’s second-biggest tire maker, announced its plan to resume suspended construction of a plant in Georgia without providing a specific timetable on its completion.

Kumho Tire broke ground for its first plant in Georgia in May of 2008, but the project has since stalled as creditors placed the company under a program to repay debts accumulated by its parent company.

Hankook Tire said it has a combined annual production capacity of about 94 million tires at its plants in South Korea, China, Indonesia and Hungary, and ships its products to 180 countries around the world.