Hangzhou Zhongce to make tyres for Cooper
Cooper Tire & Rubber has signed an agreement with Hangzhou Zhongce, whereby the Chinese manufacturer will produce 250,000 – 350,000 radial medium truck tyres (RMTs) a year. Moulds and other equipment are being transferred to China from Cooper’s plant at Albany, Georgia, where all of Cooper’s RMTs are currently manufactured. Albany makes 25,000 tyres daily, of which 1,200 are RMTs and the plant employs 1,500 workers. The Chinese-made tyres will be produced under Cooper’s brand names and will be manufactured according to Cooper’s technical specifications.
Dick Stephens, President of Cooper’s Tire Group, spoke of the reasons behind the agreement, saying: “The agreement is Cooper Tire’s first visible step in the implementation of our strategy to augment our US production with tyres produced in Asia. It’s a necessary strategy to make our overall product mix as competitive as possible. In the RMT area, this will allow us to expand our current offering without significant capital outlay. We can then realign our Albany resources to produce performance tyres, specialty light truck and other segments, which are in high demand. Cooper’s engineers and technicians have actively participated in the technology and equipment transfer to ensure that Cooper’s production and quality standards are maintained.” Stephens continued: “We have been very candid about our plans to seek additional production in Asia to supplement our US capacity. We have traditionally been known as a low cost producer in the US and we continue to use ‘lean initiatives’ to improve our quality and lower our costs. How much production we secure in Asia depends on the success of our efforts in the US to make tyres at the quality our customers demand at a cost which keeps us competitive in the marketplace.” Hangzhou Zhongce is the 24th largest tyre manufacturer worldwide, whose brands include Chaoyang, Goodride and Westlake. The company has achieved ISO 9001, DOT and ECE approvals and its tyres are sold worldwide. Annual manufacturing out put is as follows: 5.5 million bias ply tyres, 1.3 million all-steel radial truck and bus tyres, 3.5 million passenger car radials, 1 million motorcycle tyres, 50 million bicycle tyres and 35 million wheelbarrow tyres.