NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Hankook Tire America Corp. and its customers have more than a billion-and-and-half reasons to celebrate today.
The board of directors at Hankook Tire & Technology Co. Ltd. has approved a $1.6 billion expansion at the Hankook plant in Clarksville, Tenn., that eventually will:
- Double capacity for passenger and light truck tires to 11 million units a year in Phase II of the expansion;
- Establish radial truck/bus (TBR) tire manufacturing capacity at the facility in Phase III; and
- Add 1,200 new jobs to the Clarksville region when both phases are complete.
The expansion means Hankook will be able to manufacture 1 million truck/bus radial (TBR) tires annually, meaning the plant eventually will manufacture 12 million units in the U.S.
The expansion will bring the total investment in the plant to $2.2 billion since the parent company first approved the investment to build the plant in Clarksville, a city of 150,000-plus residents in north-central Tennessee.
Hankook said the will expansion will "further provide tire dealers and consumers with high-quality tires and industry-leading services to meet the demands of the American market, while supporting existing and future original Equipment (OE) partners."
Hankook's Tennessee plant opened in October 2017, and since then the tire maker said it has made 5.5 million tires annually for the North American market and created 950 jobs. Hankook said the North American market accounted for more than 28% of Hankook's tire sales in 2021.
Sooil Lee, CEO of Hankook Tire & Technology and president of Hankook Tire America Corp., said the investment "further demonstrates Hankook's growing presence in the U.S. and commitment to serving our customers.
"Through a focus on sustainable construction and innovative manufacturing, the new phase of our Tennessee plant will provide an effective local-to-local supply chain to more effectively fulfill customer demand," Lee said. "Additionally, we are extremely proud to continue to support the local economy by bringing 1,200 new jobs to the Clarksville area."
Hankook said it would break ground on the new plant in early 2023, subject to definitive agreements, regulatory approvals and other conditions. Production of both Phase II and III is scheduled to begin by the fourth quarter of 2024 and reach full capacity by early 2026.
"Global brands like Hankook Tire choose to invest in Tennessee because of our strong business climate, skilled workforce and central location," Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said in a news release. "I thank Hankook for its continued investment in our state and for creating 400 new manufacturing jobs for Tennesseans in Montgomery County."
According to Tire Business calculations, Hankook is ranked seventh in global tire sales, with $5.98 billion in sales in 2021, just behind Pirelli ($6.34 billion) and ahead of Zhongce Rubber Group Co. Ltd. ($4.52 billion). Hankook's sales grew nearly 11% 2021.
"This production expansion is a vital step to our growth in the medium truck market, making Hankook one of only a few manufacturers producing TBR products in the U.S.," Rob Williams, senior vice president, North America sales, Hankook Tire America Corp., said
"As a result, we can better meet the needs of both our growing dealer base and the fleets that serve the North American shipping lanes."