Hankook Tire and Technology Group is the biggest tire company in South Korea, and it didn’t get there by accident. Over its 80 years of history, the company has evolved in many different ways, embracing different trends, strategies, and technologies with the goal of providing the best possible technology to drivers worldwide.
Hankook’s main business is selling directly to car manufacturers. The company has collaborated with an incredibly diverse group of automakers, and the brand is particularly thoughtful and detail-oriented when developing products for new car models. If you have a car that comes factory equipped with Hankook tires, chances are good that millions of dollars were spent in the development process to make that tire perfect for your vehicle.
- What Makes Hankook Tires Special?
- Hankook Design Features
- A History of Hankook
- Hankook in the Tire Industry
- Hankook Warranty Information
- Hankook and Auto Racing
- Hankook’s Best Selling Tires
- A List of Hankook Tires Models
What Makes Hankook Tires Special?
Hankook manufactures all of its products with the same fundamental idea in mind: “driving emotion.” It’s more than just a slogan. The company uses the phrase to inform design decisions, trying to make the driving experience as integrated as possible. Through this philosophy, Hankook hopes to expand on its reputation, looking to become one of the biggest and most innovative tire companies in the world.
Value and Quality
Korean manufacturers like Hyundai, Samsung, and LG have an excellent reputation for delivering reliable products at a cheap price, and Hankook adds to the trend. After the Korean industrial revolution in the 1960s, Korean companies took advantage of cheap labor and loose trade laws to expand their international footprints. Hankook was one of the pioneers with this strategy, and by the 1980s the manufacturer had crossed into the ranks of the top 10 biggest tire companies in the world.
Hankook broke into the international scene by selling inexpensive products, but they stayed there by selling quality products. Most tires in Hankook’s lineup are slightly below average in price, but the products are known to be some of the best in the world. Tread patterns are precise, durable, and recognized for excellent handling. Rubber is specifically formulated in Korean laboratories to maximize comfort, reliability, and braking.
Hankook Manufacturing Partners
For being a smaller tire company relative to some of the industry giants, Hankook has a huge number of close relationships with auto manufacturers. The company works with American car companies like Lincoln, Ford, Chevrolet, and Ram, outfitting everything from small cars like the Chevy Spark to big Ford and Ram trucks.
Hankook also works with the largest automaker in the world, Toyota, selling tires to be fitted on their most popular vehicles, the Camry and Corolla. In fact, Hankook equips tires on four of the top five most popular vehicles in the world. These vehicles include the best selling Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, and Kia Rio models.
Hankook is unique in that most of their tires are delivered and designed for specific vehicles. If your car was delivered from the factory with Hankook rubber, we recommend that you repurchase the same tire due to Hankook’s extensive collaboration with car companies during the tire design process.
Adopting New Technologies
Hankook grew out of Korea on the basis of their affordable innovations, and the company continues to use technological disruption to their advantage by bringing new technologies to the market. Hankook has been an industry leader during big changes like the adoption of radial tires, synthetic rubber, and responsible supply chain practices.
Hankook has also been keen to enter the electric car revolution. With tires like the Kinergy AS EV, Hankook has created a tire option specifically for these new types of clean vehicles. The tires maximize the electric car’s range by using a very hard rubber that reduces rolling resistance. This rubber utilizes an oil resin derived from pine trees to make sure that the compounds in the material itself are environmentally friendly.
Hankook Design Features
Hankook designs all tires with their Kontrol Technology, an all-encompassing ethos that informs all design and product decisions for the production of tires. This technology emphasizes four elements: performance, safety, comfort, and environmental impact.
Performance is optimized by intense testing in all conditions. Hankook evaluates all of its products in water and snow as well as standard dry weather to make sure their tires meet quality standards. Kontrol Technology allows cars to handle safely even in bad weather. Safety is another emphasis, and Hankook has requirements for braking and steering to ensure that products meet rigorous guidelines.
Lastly, Kontrol Technology addresses comfort and sustainability. By understanding how tires perform in real-world conditions, Hankook can create an optimal driving performance with minimal environmental impact for all products.
Virtual Compound Design System
While other tire manufacturers continue to produce thousands of rubber samples each year to test new material formulations, Hankook has developed a more efficient system. Hankook’s technology uses artificial intelligence to predict the properties of different rubber compounds. This increases the potential pool of samples Hankook can test and also reduces the time it takes to develop new compounds.
The system works by evaluating how each ingredient in the formula interacts with the others and analyzing the compound’s potential performance. Using the accumulated data, the system can produce new ideas for formulations that eventually are created for testing in the real world. Ultimately, this delivers safer and more durable products to consumers.
Multiple Tread Radius Technology
In 2014, Hankook debuted Multiple Tread Radius Technology on its Ventus Prime tire, but the innovation has since been adapted to other models. The basis of this technology is a silica-based rubber compound that can expand and adjust to road conditions. With this nano-silica tread, Hankook was able to reduce the rolling resistance of the tire while simultaneously improving the contact patch of the tire with the road.
With Multiple Tread Radius technology, inclement weather performance is also improved. The dynamic shape of the tread profile means that the tire is less prone to hydroplaning, but the technology still maintains low noise levels and high fuel efficiency. A small sacrifice with these tires is durability, as the silica material can be slightly more prone to wear over time.
In 2019, Hankook stormed the industry, producing seven distinct designs that each gained industry-wide acclaim. Over the past two years, these seven designs have won prestigious tire awards like the RedDot Award and the International Forum Product Design Award. Both awards receive thousands of entries yearly, and Hankook has enjoyed the benefits of such acclaim by expanding its international footprint to working with high-profile automakers like Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes Benz.
Although some of the award-winning tires are concept designs that haven’t reached the market, some specific tires that have won awards are listed below:
- Dynapro AT2, 2020, RedDot Award Winner
- Dynapro MT2, 2020, RedDot Award Winner
- VENTUS S1 Evo, 2019, RedDot Award Winner
A History of Hankook
Hankook is the third largest Korean automotive company, the little brother of Kia and Hyundai. But it hasn’t always been that way, and the tire-manufacturing firm was founded in 1941 as the first tire company founded in Korea. Although Korea wasn’t very industrialized at that time, the company relied on the pursuit of innovation and technological advancement to expand.
After the Korean War in the early 1950s, the country industrialized and the automobile became the new mode of transport. Hankook progressed immensely as the country grew. When Hyundai and Kia began to sell internationally, Hankook went along for the ride, supplying their compatriots with high-quality rubber products.
By the 1980s, Hankook was a successful Korean tire company with a medium-sized international presence. To expand required tremendous investments in production capability, and the company built a factory in Daejeon, Korea that was at the time one of the biggest in the world. With the added capacity, Hankook was able to successfully expand at a high scale into the enormous European and American markets.
In the 1990s, Hankook further focused on developing its international business and opened offices in the US, Germany, and China to improve sales channels. The early 2000s were a time of growth as Hankook repositioned itself as a more premium brand.
Now, Hankook continues to expand and has new facilities in China and Indonesia. The company continues to grow its business by creating relationships with automakers and consumers worldwide, dedicated to providing high-quality products at an economical price.
Hankook was originally named the Chosun tire company after a dynasty of famous Korean rulers. In 1968, the company was renamed to Hankook, which literally means “Korea” in Korean. The full name of the company simply means “Korea Tire Company,” and the brand is well known in the country, employing over 10,000 Koreans. To have a tire firm that competes on a global scale is a point of pride for the Korean government, and the company expands on the automotive success of other auto-industry titans like Hyundai and Kia.
During the last 10 years, Hankook created a new headquarters called the Technodrome. This new facility opens doors for the creation of state-of-the-art testing laboratories and innovation centers, leading to big product improvements. The building is part of “Asia’s Silicon Valley” in Seoul, South Korea. With the facility, Hankook further hopes to expand its reputation as a technological pioneer in the tire industry.
Hankook in the Tire Industry
Although Hankook comes from a smaller country and isn’t as internationally widespread as other manufacturers, the company is still the seventh-largest tire manufacturer in the world. Hankook has slowly moved up the ranks since its days as a small Korea-based manufacturer, and the company looks poised to move up into the 6th spot, overtaking the prestigious Italian firm Perelli.
In the 1980s, Hankook used a strategy of creating enormous plants to drive down production costs. As worldwide trade became more prominent and shipping costs came down, Hankook could leverage economies of scale to sell high-quality products at a cheaper price. Using this strategy, they were able to join the first wave of Asian manufacturing. Their price competition forced companies to move production overseas to compete.
Hankook still has a reputation for producing high-quality tires at inexpensive prices. In fact, a good way to think about their market position is by comparing them to the Korean company Hyundai, which makes upmarket vehicles at an inexpensive price. Hankook tires don’t offer the heritage and legacy of Pirelli, for example, but they do provide a premium product at a very fair price.
With a strategy pursuing high-quality production at low costs, Hankook’s best-selling tires sell at a low-to-medium price point, typically in the $50 to $100 range. With such a large product line, though, the nicest models targeted for performance and luxury vehicles can sell for upwards of $200. In all categories, Hankook tires are very much value-focused.
Hankook Warranty Information
When Hankook first entered the American market, their warranty and customer service was subpar—the company couldn’t be competitive in the market on price and service at the same time. Since then, though, high investment in tire technology has allowed the company to create economical tires with extended mileage warranties. Specifics on warranty coverage are detailed here.
While other companies offer roadside assistance, Hankook’s cheaper price point doesn’t enable such hands-on service. The company does offer a 6-year warranty that protects against any defects you might come across after purchasing a tire. The warranty doesn’t cover past a certain level of wear, and tires must be kept at the proper air pressure to maintain eligibility.
Road Hazard Warranty
Hankook is one of the few companies that offers tire replacement or exchange in case of damage related to road hazards. If any type of road debris causes your tire to become inoperable, Hankook will work to get you back on the road with a new tire as soon as possible. This coverage only lasts for the first year after purchase. Not all Hankook tires have this road hazard warranty, so pay attention to the details of your tire purchase if you’re looking for this type of coverage.
Mileage warranties from Hankook are particularly generous, and most all-season passenger versions come with at least 50,000 miles of coverage. Some Dynapro, Kinergy, and Optimo tires will last over 70,000 miles, and the highest-end Optimo model has an incredible 100,000 miles of warranty coverage—if you’re lucky, your next set of tires might last even longer than your car.
While other companies are notoriously difficult to deal with when claiming mileage warranties, Hankook’s customer service department is reputable and easy to work with. Warranty claims are processed quickly and fairly.
Hankook and Auto Racing
Hankook takes a different approach from other companies to sponsoring race teams. The company avoids top-tier races like Formula One, Le Mans, and NASCAR in favor of smaller race series.
The company uses this strategy for two reasons. Firstly, Hankook can optimize their marketing dollars for specific markets. When the company hopes to expand in California, for example, they can spend money on racing at the Laguna Seca Speedway instead of burning cash up on NASCAR, where their California exposure will be limited.
Secondly, the company can work closely with teams to collaborate on tire design. For larger race series, tire regulations are more strict and thus leave less room for innovation and creativity. By sponsoring smaller teams, Hankook’s engineers can develop products for race cars that can be easily adapted to technology for regular drivers.
24 Hour Racing
Most major car companies put millions of research and development dollars towards 24-hour racing due to the discipline’s similarity to real-world conditions. Hankook is no exception and develops tires for this style of racing that can lead to technological innovations that help create long-lasting tires. The company credits years of 24-hour racing experience for its famously durable products.
In the internationally recognized 24H series, Hankook has won every single championship since 2015. Races in this series take place all over the world and use several different car formats, but the most popular class uses Grand Touring cars that are similar to high-end sports cars like Ferraris and Porsches.
DTM Racing is another format Hankook participates in that replicates world conditions. All cars are based on mass-produced road sedans and coupes, which helps aid Hankook’s development process for many manufacturers that participate in the series. By working on the racetrack with specific auto-makers, Hankook can collaborate on products that will eventually reach the consumer market.
Currently, the racing series features both BMW and Audi, and Hankook collaborates with these German racing teams to help develop customized products that interface well with their cars. Technologies are then adapted for real-world driving, where they appear on cars like the Audi A-series and BMW 3-series.
Hankook is one of the only major tire manufacturers that sponsors prototype racing, a little-known class of motorsport that emphasizes innovation. The company support British racing team Radical, which competes at race tracks as big as the Nürburgring in Western Germany
Most notable in this class of racing is the wide lineup of available cars. Hankook’s team has eight distinct models of cars that it uses for racing, and each of those cars is better in certain conditions. Hankook works to optimize tire technology for each individual car. Insights gained from prototype racing can be used to help adapt race tire technology to individual vehicles.
Hankook’s Best Selling Tires
Hankook doesn’t have as wide of a light truck and SUV lineup as other manufacturers, but their passenger vehicle tires meet a diverse range of performance requirements. Some of the most popular tires models are listed below.
Kinergy Tire Family
The Kinergy Series is one of Hankook’s best-known tires, originally developed for use on Hondas, Hyundais, Kias, and Volkswagens. Now, these models are available in the aftermarket and they’re popular for the same reasons that they were popular with car manufacturers—economical price, good fuel efficiency, and availability in a wide range of sizes. Most Kinergy models are US-made in Hankook’s Tennessee plant, so when you buy a Kinergy tire you know you’re getting a quality product that supports American manufacturing.
- Kinergy GT: The Kinergy GT is one of the cheaper options in the Kinergy series. A steel belt and polyester casing help provide structure and durability while keeping costs low. The ride, fuel efficiency, and performance are all adequate, but the main benefit for this tire is its economical price.
- Kinergy ST: The Kinergy GT is the best-selling tire in the Kinergy lineup. It’s an all-season tire with a silica rubber compound that lowers rolling resistance. Performance is good in all weather, and most sizes are available in the sub-$150 range.
Dynapro Tire Family
The Dynapro lineup of tires is Hankook’s offering for SUV and light truck drivers. Over the past 10 years, the tire family has developed from just one tire into a wide range of offerings from highway-ready SUV tires to off-road capable all-terrain rubber. The Dynapro line is a solid mid-range offering for anything bigger than a crossover.
- Dynapro HP2: A model developed for crossovers and SUVs, the Dynapro HP2 is more at home on the highway than on the dirt. An all-season silica tread provides traction in wet, dry, and even snowy conditions.
- Dynapro AT2: The AT2 is the grandfather of the Dynapro line with an aggressive off-road tread. Although it’s on the expensive end of things, it’s got enough traction to drive up a brick wall.
Ventus Tire Family
With a focus on complete performance and handling, the Ventus line is meant to be equipped on sports coupes and performance sedans. It’s made-for-speed so much that Hankook even began to offer a race version that isn’t even street legal.
- Ventus H101: Hankook targeted a unique niche with the Ventus H101. This sporty tire is at home in all-seasons, and its soft rubber compound works perfectly even in light snow. This is one of the only all-season sports car tires also designed to perform well in the snow.
- Ventus S1 evo3: For the speed demons, the Ventus S1 evo3 will take you confidently up to 150 miles per hour. Handling is crisp even at speed, while the minimal profile of the tire looks good on nearly every sports coupe.
A List of Hankook Tires Models
Supercar Performance Summer Tires
Ventus Prime 2
Ventus Prime 2 HRS
Ventus S1 evo2
Ventus S1 evo2 HRS
Ventus S1 evo3
Ventus S1 evo3 ev
Ultra High Performance Summer Tires
High Performance Summer Tires
Ventus V12 evo K110
Ventus V12 evo2
Performance Summer Tires
Ultra High Performance All-Season Tires
Ventus S1 noble2
Ventus S1 noble2 +
Ventus S1 noble2 HRS
Ventus V4 ES H105
High Performance All-Season Tires
Ventus V2 concept2
Performance All-Season Tires
Grand Touring All-Season Tires
Kinergy GT HRS
Optimo H426B HRS
Standard Touring All-Season Tires
Racing and Autocross Exclusive Tires
Temporary or Compact Spare
Light Truck and SUV Tires
Street and Sport Truck Summer Tires
Ventus S1 evo2 SUV
Ventus S1 evo3 SUV
Ventus S1 evo3 SUV HRS
Street and Sport Truck All-Season Tires
Ventus ST RH06
Crossover and SUV Touring All-Season Tires
Dynapro HP2 Plus
Ventus AS RH07
Highway All-Season Tires
Dynapro AS RH03
Dynapro HT RH12
Off-Road All-Terrain Tires
Dynapro AT RF08
Off-Road Maximum Traction Tires