Hankook Tire, the world’s seventh-largest tire maker by sales, will be one of the tire suppliers for Tesla’s electric sport utility vehicle Model Y, industry officials said Monday.
The Korean tire manufacturer’s 19-inch tires are currently fitted on Model Y vehicles that are produced in Tesla’s Shanghai plant, which accounts for the Chinese market and other countries around the world. The Korean market, however, is likely to be excluded from the Hankook Tire production batch as it will be importing the models produced in the United States.
The Model Y is the newest model introduced by Tesla here since the Model 3 that was rolled out in August 2019. Since the launch in the US early last year, some 70,000 units have been sold.
The latest tire supply contract is an expansion of the partnership between the US electric vehicle maker and the Korean tire maker. Hankook Tire has been supplying tires for Tesla’s Model 3 since 2016.
Besides Tesla, Hankook Tire has secured orders from other premium auto companies, especially marking its presence in the EV sector.
Last year, it started supplying tires to Porsche’s EV Taycan and has also signed an exclusive deal for the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship -- the renowned motor race for electrically powered vehicles -- for the 2022-2023 seasons.
The tires for electric vehicles have higher technical requirements than those for regular gas-driven cars, as EVs weigh several hundred kilograms more, increasing wear on the tires.
The low-noise requirements are also more demanding, as road surface noise tends to be more conspicuous in EVs due to the lack of conventional engine noise.
In contrast to its expansion in the global market, however, Hankook Tire is expected to lose ground in the domestic market to foreign rivals.
Of the 29.1 million tire sales in 2019, foreign brands accounted for 18.1 percent, up from 8.2 percent in 2016.
The market share of Korean tires for new cars, on the other hand, has been on a downturn, with sales slipping to 23.6 million as of October last year, down from 32.8 million in 2017.
It was under such circumstances that the Korea Tire Manufacturers Association called on the government last month to provide policy support for local tire makers.
By Bae Hyun-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org