That tire will be made exclusively in the U.S.
"The U.S. market is the biggest market in the world," Mr. Suh said. "In order for Hankook Tire to grow globally, we have to grow in the U.S."
Hankook's market share in Europe is more than 8 percent, Mr. Suh said, double what it is in the U.S. That number increased after Hankook opened a plant in Hungary a decade ago, and the firm expects that to hold true after expanding to the U.S.
"Even though conditions for having a plant here are tough, because everything is expensive, we felt we should have a plant here," Mr. Suh said.
Delivery time will be reduced significantly, he said.
It takes around three months for an order to be manufactured at an overseas plant and then delivered to customers. He said once the Clarksville plant ramps up, it will take less than two weeks to get the product into a customer's hands.
"We can respond to current market trends instantly," he said.
The Clarksville plant won't reach capacity until mid-2018. Once production stabilizes, officials will begin the process of review for the second phase, which likely will include an increase in production for passenger and light truck tires.
While Phases 3 and 4 are hypothetical at this point, Mr. Suh said it's possible that a truck tire expansion will be considered for the location.
"We want to grow those markets in the U.S.," he said. "It's pretty crucial for our growth and brand awareness."