Korean tire manufacturers are working on high-tech and innovative products in step with the fast-changing car market.
For example, Kumho Tire is developing plastic tires for launching within this year. Tires to which special plastic materials are applied do not become flat and, as such, are regarded as futuristic tires. Kumho’s plastic tire can become the first one of its kind in South Korea if released as planned.
Hankook Tire, in the meantime, recently proposed a concept of transforming tires that are changed in shape in response to different road surface conditions unlike existing tires, whose variations have been limited to flatness ratio and tread.
At the same time, South Korean tire manufacturers are accelerating their development of electric vehicle (EV) tires. An EV is characterized by carrying a battery weighing approximately 200 kg, which means it requires more traction and wear resistance than a non-electric car. Although some EV tires have been supplied based on general tires, an increasing number of tire manufacturers are working on products dedicated to EVs.
Kumho Tire released the first EV tire in South Korea in 2014 and improved the product late last year. The improved product, Wattrun VS31, is 25 percent lighter than a general tire yet exhibits the same performance.
Hankook Tire’s second-generation EV tire Kinergy AS EV provides an ultra-low noise environment optimized for EVs. The product is characterized by incorporating various noise reduction techniques, such as a polyurethane sound absorber attached to the inside of the tire and noise suppression at a particular frequency.
Nexen Tire released N’blue EV in 2016. The company is planning to open a new R&D center in Magok, Seoul next month. The R&D center will be in charge of developing advanced tire design technology for use in EV tires and environmentally friendly tires.