AKRON (Sept. 21, 2010)—Tire manufacturers need to push quality, cut their products' carbon footprint and their plant emissions, and make tires safer, according to Hankook Tire Co. Ltd.'s Sueng Hwa Suh in his keynote speech Sept. 20 at the Tire Society meeting.
The call to action by the vice chairman and CEO of the South Korean tire maker was simpler for consumers: Get some air in your tires.
To an audience made up of tire industry participants from throughout the world, Suh challenged the industry to develop new raw materials that aid sustainability; reduce energy consumption in manufacturing and distribution; reduce tires' carbon footprint; and focus on quality and safety, but not at the expense of environmental responsibility.
"As global manufacturers, we must also be held accountable for helping to protect our environment," he said. "We cannot be so absorbed in pursuing sales growth that we become blind to the vulnerability of our planet."
Suh said performance and quality are the ultimate demonstration of technical competence, and Hankook devotes 5 percent of its total sales annually in reserach and development to meet those goals. Even the long recession and its ill effect on tire makers didn't change that policy, he said.
"For Hankook Tire this investment strategy has produced breakthroughs in tire technology in the areas of tire design, construction, compounding, and manufacturing processes," Suh said.
Suh used statistics from the Rubber Manufacturers Association to offer advice to motorists. A study released by the RMA last summer shows that the tires on only one in six vehicles are properly inflated, and 55 percent of all vehicles on the road ride on at least one underinflated tire.
Suh said this is dangerous and a waste of fuel.
"Therefore, I would like to propose that all tire manufacturers jointly develop a global campaign for educating consumers about air pressure and the overwhelming benefits that we can all enjoy if we simply maintain proper inflation," he said.