KOREA (SOUTH)/CHINA: Hankook Tire makes steady inroads in China market

Hankook Tire's sales in China topped 1 trillion won ($942 million) last year on rising demand for new tires among car owners, according to the company.

Its market share in China is steady at 15 percent and it competes closely with Goodyear Tire & Rubber for the second-largest tire seller slot. Michelin Group is the leader in China with some 18 percent market share.

Hankook Tire is one of the first Korean tire manufacturers to make an entry into the Chinese market. It started a Chinese operation in 1996.

Hankook Tire has a production capacity of more than 30 million units per year in China and is seeking to expand it to 39 million units by 2015.

The Korean tire maker has been operating two plants in China.

It's currently building a new plant in Chongqing in southwestern China, which is expected to be completed in 2015.

The company plans to not only solidify its position in the Chinese market with a third plant but also begin tackling China's central and western regions, the company officials said.

A Dongbu Securities report released on 14 Feb. 2013 projected the tire manufacturer will post 7.6 trillion won in revenues and 1 trillion won in its operating profit thanks largely to the diversification of its sales structure and performance in China. Last year the company had 7.2 trillon won in sales, which was a record for the company.

Source: "Korea Joongang Daily", Seoul, through Yonhap News Agency; 16 Feb 2013(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)