SEOUL, South Korea (Feb. 28, 2014) — Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. and German specialty chemicals company Lanxess A.G. have agreed to cooperate on the development of synthetic rubber (SR) technologies for high-performance tires.
Under the agreement, signed this week in Seoul, the companies will jointly develop high-performance SR grades and applications designed to increase the performance of tires from early stages of product development.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
The agreement is an outgrowth of long-term supply partnership the firms established in 2007 covering solution styrene-butadiene rubber (S-SBR) and neodymium performance butadiene rubber (Nd-PBR).
These specialty rubbers are considered core materials for high-performance tires, Lanxess said.
The market for high-performance tires is showing a rapid rise due to increasing demand for premium tires and the introduction of tire labeling in South Korea, the European Union (EU) and Japan, according to Lanxess.
In addition, South Korea enacted a mandatory tire-labeling system last year, the second market in the world after the European Union. Japan introduced a voluntary label in 2010, while Brazil will follow with a labeling system in 2016. China and the U.S. are developing similar regulations.
Lee Sang Ju, senior vice president and head of global research and development for Hankook, said the company's "continued R&D efforts with this technical partnership will further contribute to solidify our position as a global premium tire maker with even more advanced tire technology."
Joachim Grub, head of Lanxess' Performance Butadiene Rubbers business unit, said: "In this new technical partnership, we will assist Hankook Tire in achieving a key position as a global tire maker of high-quality products based on leading-edge technologies."
Cologne, Germany-based Lanxess, considered the world's largest SR supplier, is building in Singapore what it bills as the world's largest Nd-PBR plant, expected to come on stream in 2015.
In addition to S-SBR and Nd-PBR, Lanxess' performance butadiene rubber products porftolio also includes general-purpose E-SBR.