COLOGNE—Lanxess A.G. and Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding to co-develop synthetic rubber technologies for high performance tires.
The companies agreed to jointly study the development of high-performance synthetic rubber grades and applications that increase tire performance.
Lanxess said it has maintained a close partnership with Hankook since 2008, when the tire company awarded Lanxess a long-term contract to supply solution styrene-butadiene rubber and neodymium performance butadiene rubber. The firm expects this partnership to strengthen ties further between itself and Hankook.
"Lanxess has a strong reputation for sophisticated and customized research and development efforts and for having innovation as its key driving force," said Joachim Grub, head of the Performance Butadiene Rubbers business unit.
Lanxess said the market for high-performance tires is rising due to increase demand for premium tires and the introduction of tire labeling in South Korea, the European Union and Japan. The firm said South Korea introduced a tire labeling system in 2012, following the European Union's suit, and Japan introduced a voluntary program in 2010.
Lanxess said Brazil will follow with a labeling system in 2016, and China and the U.S. are developing implementation plans.
Hankook's alliance with Lanxess is another step in its continued investment in research and development in South Korea. The firm has committed $240 million for a tire proving grounds and engineering center—the Hankook Tire Test Engineering Center—to be constructed at a 1,420-acre site over the next seven years.
The facility will have an 18-mile-long test track capable of simulating road conditions from around the world in a variety of weather conditions, Hankook said, allowing the company to test products designed for varying markets.
It also invested $133 million for a research and development center in Daejeon, South Korea.
"Based on our proven technological excellence, Hankook Tire has been focusing on the high-performance sector and has made continuous research and development and investment efforts as part of our pathway towards becoming a global top-tier tire company," said Lee Sang Ju, senior vice president and head of global research and development at Hankook.