South Korea Business Report

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KFTC maintains global lead with continuous R&D and quality innovation

South Korean automotive parts manufacturer’s Asian growth revved by R&D and factories in China, India, Vietnam and Indonesia

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 October, 2017, 10:36am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 October, 2017, 10:36am

Due to rising concerns over energy shortage and greenhouse gas emissions, regulations on fuel consumption and environmental standards are becoming more stringent worldwide.

To stay buoyant in a rapidly changing vehicle industry landscape, manufacturers are in constant search of key technologies and solutions to meet market demand for more advanced,

high-performing vehicle parts and systems.

Driven by continuous research and development (R&D) and quality innovation, Korea Fuel-Tech Corp (KFTC) brings best-in-class products and technology advancements in order to adapt to global emission specifications.

KFTC specialises in engineering plastic components, complex systems and interior parts for the vehicle market, with an annual sales turnover of US$315 million. Its core expertise lies in fuel technology systems, which account for 70 per cent of its revenue.

“We take pride in our in-house R&D – where we invest 6 per cent of our total revenues – and our robust engineering capabilities, techniques, registered patents and industry know-how,” says Oh Won-suk, chairman and CEO.

KFTC is a trusted supplier of top domestic vehicle brands, which include Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, and serves international clients such as General Motors, Volkswagen, Volvo, Renault and Škoda.

“We maintain strong collaborations with client-partners, starting with the initial stages of product design to development, testing and modifications,” Oh says.

KFTC has three manufacturing plants in the country, four in China and one in India. It is also present in Europe, with two plants in Poland and one in Slovakia.

The company leverages more than three decades of in-depth industry knowledge in developing a wide range of carbon canisters, which can be customised according to local industry regulations.

KFTC is the world’s fourth-largest canister manufacturer and the country’s leading canister maker with 77 per cent domestic market share. Its carbon canisters are designed to capture fuel vapour from the fuel tank by activated carbon and feed it back into the engine, resulting to decreased air pollution emitted by the vehicle and increased fuel efficiency.

Oh Won-suk, chairman and CEO, Korea Fuel-Tech Corp

For its next generation of canisters, KFTC is pioneering the development of carbon canisters for hybrid cars, which can satisfy enhanced evaporative emission standards under low purging conditions. Last year, it signed a US$67.5 million agreement with GM Global for the supply of carbon canisters.

Moving towards lightweight vehicles, KFTC’s plastic fuel systems are lighter by almost 1 kg than their steel counterparts and have superior performance in terms of fuel efficiency and corrosion resistance. Its plastic parts products include fuel filler necks, fuel rails, intake hoses, intercooler pipes, and urea filler necks.

The company is the country’s only manufacturer of the lightweight nano plastic filler neck. “When using vehicle plastic materials, we make sure that we are able to successfully overcome their limitations, such as preventing the build-up of static electricity and minimising hydrocarbon emission vapours,” Oh says.

KFTC’s nano plastic filler neck blocks evaporating gas better than existing multilayer structures. This revolutionary product, developed through close collaboration with leading special materials suppliers, uses special recyclable materials and complies with global emission regulations.

KFTC has also entered into the advanced driver assistance systems market and created smart car solutions.

It developed a software system, which can detect pedestrians clearly regardless of lighting or weather conditions. The company plans to launch its pedestrian detection system towards the end of

next year.

Showcasing its design expertise, the company’s interior parts products include sunshades, air vent and arm rest. It focuses on entertainment and moving parts, such as cup holders, to enhance end-users’ riding experience.

To propel its growth in Asia and fuel demand, KFTC plans to expand its production base in Indonesia and Vietnam, where it seeks partnerships with original equipment manufacturers possessing a strong track record and a solid understanding of local market needs and regulations.