Like many sectors of the automotive industry, the tire segment has seen rapid change over the last decade.
Advances in technology and the growth in new vehicle segments have been a big part of that. Additionally, growth in demand for tires has also impacted distribution and the supply chain.
To find out more about these developments and others, Autosphere sat down with Darryl Gray, National Sales Director, Canada for Hankook Tire.
How did you first get involved in the tire industry?
I started out in this industry when I was 16. Back then, I was working at a gas station. Eventually, I was recruited by a customer who owned a tire warehouse and I’ve been involved with the tire business ever since.
Are there any significant career milestones you’d like to share?
One of the most significant periods I recall was when I was working with GO transit in developing a bus tire that was unique to North America. A few years ago, GO transit needed tires to support its fleet of double-decker buses that fit under the bridges in downtown Toronto. We worked with the product development team and built tires that were 6 inches shorter than the existing product while maintaining the strength and durability to support the passengers and the engine weight.
Can you tell us a little about your current role and what it entails?
Presently, I am the National Sales Director at Hankook Tire Canada. In this position, I oversee the sales team and lead inter-departmental communication.
What do you see as some of the key factors currently influencing the North American passenger tire market?
Currently, the global economy is facing freight and logistics issues, which in turn, impact the North American tire market. Additionally, there is also overwhelming market demand at present due to increased land transportation and raw material production, which in turn, impacts overall production capacity.
Can you tell us a little about Hankook’s growth and strategy in the region over the last few years and where some of the key opportunities for that have been identified?
Customizing unique and impactful strategies for each global market has been a key principle for Hankook Tire for the last 80 years and has proved its worth. We are continually looking to grow in the retail and distribution sectors as well as strengthen our OEM partnerships.
When we look at product categories, such as passenger car, SUV, and light truck, what are some of the biggest trends you’ve seen in North America?
It is important to note that each region across Canada (province to province) is different. Common trends across the country include the preference for larger wheel diameter, low-profile tires, and fuel efficiency. Additionally, winter tires make up a large sector due to the nature of Canadian weather and roads and we are increasingly seeing a growth in demand for specific EV tires for those who have adopted electric vehicles as their mode of transportation.
Looking at the commercial vehicle tire sector, what are some of the biggest trends and opportunities you see currently happening?
The overall technology in building quality commercial vehicle tire products has continued to advance and improve over time. Commercial drivers today, have the luxury of choosing brands that provide the best value (time, durability, and service) for their investment. I believe Hankook Tire is at the forefront of commercial tire innovation as we are constantly advancing our technology to suit the needs of the sector.
North American market
If applicable, we would love to hear about some of Hankook’s innovations and product innovations happening in the North American market?
The advanced technology behind the high-performance Kinergy 4S 2 all-season tire promises reliability and safety for road trips of any distance. The Kinergy 4S 2 offers high reliability in wet, dry, and snowy conditions, which is made possible by the directional tread. The Hankook Kinergy 4S 2 and other varieties of Hankook tires are available at independent tire shops and automotive retailers across Canada.
As we look to the future and with vehicle electrification on the minds of many, what do you think that constitutes for both the OE and replacement tire sectors?
Hankook Tire takes a proactive approach to leadership in the mobility market; and is currently supplying tires for new vehicles. Additionally, our focus is to continue to provide driving emotion in EVs based on technological expertise, quality, and competitiveness.