SEOUL, South Korea—Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. has begun supplying original equipment tires to Daimler A.G. for the Mercedes-Benz S- and E-Class models, a key step in the company's effort to become a global top tier tire maker, according to the company's top executive.
"We are a little bit shy company, but supplying tires to Mercedes S-Class means a lot to us," said Seung Hwa Suh, vice chairman and CEO. "That's why we are saying this is an historic day for Hankook."
Hankook unveiled the new OE fitments Sept. 2 during its Tire Press Day 2013 event in Seoul attended by nearly 100 members of the South Korean media as well as the U.S. tire trade press.
In addition to the Mercedes announcement, Hankook also revealed a new OE fitment on BMW A.G.'s 5-Series, expanding its supply relationship with the German auto maker beyond the 1- and 3-Series vehicles.
Adding Mercedes to its OE mix gives Hankook supply agreements with Germany's Big 3 auto brands, which includes Audi A.G., the company said.
Hankook also announced OE fitments on the 2014 Nissan Altima, 2013 Honda Civic and 2014 Toyota Corolla and 2013 Honda Civic. The Civic fitment is Hankook's first with Honda Motor Co. Ltd.
For the Mercedes S- and E-Class vehicles, Hankook will supply its Ventus Prime2, size 245/55R17W, and the Ventus S1 evo2 in size 225/50R17W, respectively.
The S-Class is considered Mercedes-Benz's luxury flagship. The 2014 version is a redesigned successor to the previous-generation S-Class range that debuted in 2007 as well as the platform Mercedes will use to serve customers previously targeted by the now discontinued Maybach luxury line, according to a report in Autoweek magazine, a sister publication of Rubber & Plastics News.
The BMW 5-Series will come equipped with Ventus S1 evo2s in size 225/55R17W, while the Altima gets the Optimo H426, size P215/60R16T.
Hankook called the supply agreement with Nissan a "giant step" into its future as it marks the first Korean tire brand to provide OE fitments to all three top Japanese vehicle brands—Toyota, Honda and Nissan.
For the Civic, Hankook also is providing the Optima H426 in size P205/55R16H for the Civic and in size 195/65R15S for the Corolla.
Hankook will produce the tires for the Mercedes S-Class at its plant in Geumsan, South Korea, its primary factory for ultra-high-performance tires.