KOREA (SOUTH): Hankook Tire to spend 266 billion won on R&D center

Hankook Tire President Cho Hyun-bum pledged to spend more on R&Ds.

"We will use some 5 % of our sales for investment in R&Ds, which is about 1 percentage point higher than our rivals," Cho said.

The company said it will recruit some 400 additional researchers to increase the number on staff to about 1,000.

"The new center will play an important role in developing source technology to become a world's top tire maker by 2020," HanKook Tire Vice Chairman and CEO Suh Seung-hwa said during a press conference.

"We will continue to secure experienced researchers here and overseas, as well as educating new employees into tech-savvy ones."

The center will also play a bridging role between Seoul headquarters, local and overseas research facilities, the company said.

"To become a first-mover, we need to make innovative tire products," said Lee Sang-ju, senior vice president in R&D division of Hankook Tire.

The center will focus on development of eco-friendly and high-end products. The existing manufacturing facility in South Chungcheong Province will also be moved to the Daejeon center.

The firm's facility is its seventh research center, with others in the likes of the United States, Germany, China and Japan. The tire firm also plans to develop another research center, to be utilized as a tire testing center, in North Gyeonsang Province in 2018.

The Hankook Test Engineering Center is a facility expected to be completed by 2018. The testing center will host 10 driving circuits.

Meanwhile, Cho said the company is considering introducing tires for Formula 1 (F1), world's most popular auto racing competition, to raise awareness of the firm's brand.

"We have already enough technologies to compete with global rivals, such as Italian tire firm Pirelli. We will announce when we have the details of an F1 business."

The center will be built on a 96,328-square-meter site and include 90 separate laboratories and residence buildings.

Source: Daily "The Korea Times”, Seoul; 10 June 2014
(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)