Tyrexpo Asia Continues to Grow Despite Clash of Dates
The sixth Tyrexpo Asia, held in Singapore in September, left no hint of a doubt as to the importance of the regional tyre market and of the show itself in comparison with other regions and events. The organisers of the biannual Tyrexpo Asia, the UK’s ECI International, have again been proud to present the show’s final figures, which show an exhibitor increase of about 30 per cent compared to the 2005 show: this year 125 companies from 25 different countries booked floor space in the Singapore Expo Center. In terms of booked floor space this year’s show has developed equally well: about 6,500 m² was covered which, representing a growth of 25 per cent. However, this success is not completely untarnished as the number of visitors might be expected to have grown on par – something that would been justified by the quality of exhibitors – if there had not been a clash of dates with the CITExpo tyre show in Shanghai, China. At the end ECI International reported a growth of nine per cent up to 3,219 registered visitors from 88 different countries.
During the previous Tyrexpo Asia two years ago the organisers reported 3,000 visitors from 73 countries. In particular, keeping the clash of dates with the CITExpo (which took place literally on the same days and was bidding for both the same visitors and exhibitors) in mind, this year’s Tyrexpo Asia has to be seen in a positive light. It has again attracted an international audience and can claim to be a (more) international tyre exhibition compared to the Shanghai show where there were again mostly, but not exclusively, Chinese tyre companies signed up as exhibitors. At the same time it has to be admitted that CITExpo attracted a far greater number of visitors; the number of international visitors in Shanghai was close to the total number of visitors to the Tyrexpo in Singapore. To sum up, many exhibitors have again praised the high degree of professionalism with which the Tyrexpo organisers continue to host the show. It also panned out that the quality of exhibitors in Singapore appeared to justify the qualification as the leading international tyre show in Southeast and Eastern Asia.
It is easy to understand the unease felt by the organisers of the biannual Tyrexpo Asia over show dates. ECI’s Rowena Suthers and Paul Farrant announced the dates for this year’s show – the sixth Tyrexpo Asia to be held – when the fifth show took place in September 2005. When the organisers of the CITExpo in Shanghai – an annual show – last year announced their dates for 2007 the coordination problems began for many exhibitors and visitors. The reason was a clash of the dates for both shows: the Singapore show took place from September 11 to 13, the Shanghai show from September 12 to 14.
According to announcements from China, the organisers of the CITExpo, Reliable International Exhibition Services, just could not find a different date to host their own tyre show in its well-established venue in Shanghai in order to avoid the clash of show dates. Although it has to be admitted that Shanghai’s exhibition venues are in high demand and that Reliable also has to fit the tyre show into its own show portfolio as a professional show organiser, some observers might draw the conclusion that the dates were chosen deliberately. A reason might be that competition over the title “leading tyre show in Asia” has become fierce. At the end of the day it also has to be admitted that such a move – if this were indeed the reason – is acceptable practice in any business. Competition is not about becoming “the nicest show organiser in the world” but following one’s own business interests.
Whatever the case, it seems an inescapable fact that both tyre shows have partly suffered from the clash of dates and that this year’s events might have a negative impact on coming shows. The question remains how the number of visitors would have developed for both shows without this clash of dates and what conclusions current and potential future exhibitors might draw from this information, knowing that the number of visitors is of utmost importance to exhibitors (together with what show organisers often refer to as the “quality of visitors”). To counter any negative follow on, those in charge at ECI International have started a public campaign to make sure everybody understands that they were the first to set the date for a 2009 show. The seventh Tyrexpo Asia will take place in Singapore from March 24 to 26, 2009. Therefore, should there be another clash of dates, everybody can point out a finger at the CITExpo organisers and call them bad sports. But as previously mentioned, the question remains whether or not guilt is something that carries weight in business relations.
It can be safely assumed that most of the companies and industry specialists involved in the tyre business –exhibitors and visitors alike – hope the various show organisers in Asia will treat their sometimes limited resources as valuable in future regardless of the what competition arises between the different organisers in the region when each endeavours to run the “leading tyre show” in Southeast and Eastern Asia.” Today the organisers of Tyrexpo Asia don’t think they have any reason to adopt a defensive position. On the contrary: because the announcement that the Shanghai show would take place during the same week as Tyrexpo Asia was understood to be almost a declaration of war, Rowena Suthers’ and Paul Farrant’s motivation to make the 2007 show a success was thus increased. And more than ever, the two directors will put all their efforts to host a successful Tyrexpo 2009 and to again make it a “leading” tyre show.
Bearing all this in mind, one fact must be highlighted: CITExpo is only making small progress in its attempt to rid itself of the reputation of being a show mostly for Chinese exhibitors and to some extent visitors, regardless of all announcements and declarations to the contrary. At the same time the Tyrexpo Asia seems to attract by far more international exhibitors and visitors, taking into account that Singapore as a venue is only a small city state with not too many tyre specialists.
ECI explicitly does not want to read too much into these rumbling thunderclouds, for one simple reason – there is no real need to talk about competing show organisers. What is considered more important is that ECI remains in the drivers seat and does not become a mere passenger in the region’s tyre show business. But such contemplations aside, ECI International sums up the three-day show in Singapore in a rather positive way: “Our belief in the future of the Tyrexpo Asia has further continued to grow,” said Rowena Suthers from ECI in an interview with Tyres & Accessories, who was also, as in previous years, exhibiting in Singapore. This year there has been a “clear growth” with regards to exhibitors as well as floor space and visitors. In this context Ms Suthers talks about “record numbers” not reached previously. At least three quarters of this year’s exhibitors can be seen as regular Tyrexpo Asia clients. Many of these companies, as did some of the newcomers – take Apollo Tyres or Ceat from India for example –invested considerable amounts of money into the design and construction of their show stands. On top of this, 35 Chinese companies exhibited at the Singapore show. According to ECI’s understanding, this underlines the importance of Tyrexpo Asia in Singapore even for companies that you might expect to also have an interest in the CITExpo show. In future Rowena Suthers is expecting further growth in numbers of exhibitors and also hopes that this general upward trend will positively influence the number of visitors. According to the ECI director the bottom line is: “Our event is the exhibition for the tyre specialist.”
Singapore – New and old faces
Tyrexpo Asia is not only a show that attracts regular customers. Again and again it is used as a venue for the launch of innovative products and marketing campaigns. It is in particular emerging companies, the so-called “new players,” that choose to mark their entry onto the international stage in such a way. One of these players is the Indian market leader Apollo Tyres. When Apollo Tyres took over Dunlop Tyres International early last year, it was more than just another run of the mill merger and acquisition story. It was a clear declaration about the future direction of the family-owned and run company. The message was and still is: Apollo wants to find its position in the top league of international tyre manufacturers.
The self-confident way in which Apollo’s joint managing director and COO Neeraj R.S. Kanwar speaks about the future of his company and the next steps it needs to take comes across as more than just slick PR skills – it is clear he stands behind every word he says. There will be some “major announcement” next spring if not earlier regarding Apollo’s plans on the European PCR and LTR markets, Mr Kanwar said during an interview with Tyres & Accessories during Tyrexpo Asia. “We want our marketing strategy in place and that our infrastructure ready,” he replies when asked about the reason why Apollo is not yet present on the European tyre markets on a large scale. While Europe is “my first market” for Kanwar, Apollo does not have any specific plans with regards to North American markets. To date Apollo has shipped thousands of passenger car tyres to European replacement markets after entering into an agreement with Euro-Tyre. The Dutch wholesaler was even able to squeeze the new brand into the budget brand portfolio of point S, one of Europe’s leading independent tyre dealer cooperatives. This, however, should be regarded as just a test run, although Mr Neeraj Kanwar was not inclined to delve into the details as to why shipments have now stopped. What is more important, he points out, is that “we are ready to get into Europe.” At the same time he leaves no doubt as to his conviction that Apollo branded tyres – the products of India’s market leader – should not be sold alongside all the other nameless tyre brands in the budget segment of the European tyre market. According to Mr Kanwar’s observation, Apollo tyres would fit into the middle segment of the European replacement market and could become a top brand in this market segment within a span of three to four years after the products are launched in Europe. To highlight the company’s capacities in this respect, he noted that Apollo is widely and unquestionably regarded as a benchmark for price, quality and sales on the domestic Indian tyre market. Whether or not Apollo Tyres will manage to enter the European tyre market at this level remains to be seen – as will whether or not Apollo chooses a partner for its entry into Europe and – if at all – which partner this would be. Whatever shape or form Apollo’s approach to the European tyre market takes, a successful market entry is strongly dependant on the right marketing strategy, the distribution partner, whether an exclusive importer or not, and last but not least on the quality of the products produced at Apollo’s facilities in India and in South Africa. As Neeraj Kanwar points out, he and his management teams are currently working on the right answers to these questions.
As was reported, last financial year Apollo Tyres managed to become a member of the global tyre industry’s exclusive billion-dollar-club. On the back of this, the Indian tyre manufacturer is further set for growth. In order to set a foundation for strong international growth Apollo Tyres used this year’s Tyrexpo Asia to present itself as well as its products – it was the first time ever that the company exhibited at any major tyre show outside of India. “It was our first step onto the international tyre market,” the joint managing director said. To ensure this step did not pass unnoticed, Apollo invested in an exhibition stand that was outstanding in the literal sense of the word – it was about the largest in size and contrasted in a very positive and professional way with the cubicle-sized booths that many Tyrexpo Asia exhibitors continue to book with the organisers. On top of that, the number of square metres available to Apollo did not make it necessary to decide what products were shown and what weren’t – Apollo just showed them all.
After what Mr Kanwar has called a “first step” there will obviously be others. The Indian company plans to also exhibit in Germany next year at May’s Reifen show. Apart from Apollo’s current tread patterns Aspire, Acelere and Amazer, which are considered the door openers to the European tyre market, the company also showed several prototype tyres. These tyres were brought to Singapore to present to an international audience the company’s technological capabilities. Furthermore, by means of the take-over of Dunlop Tyres International Apollo has got hold of radial truck tyre technology on par with that established for some years in European markets. The South African tyre maker produces the Regal brand, which is sold in Europe through the Dutch wholesale giant Inter-Sprint; according to informed sources the wholesaler sells about 1 million of these truck tyres every year. Last but not least, Apollo Tyres also featured its latest product innovation: DuraTyre, a pre-cured tread for the retreading of truck tyres; Apollo Tyres is also itself retreading.
Apollo Tyres did not only use the days in Singapore to present itself to visitors and thus to an international audience. Top company executives, as well as Apollo’s marketing department – by the way, the manufacturer is one of the few Indian tyre companies that has a marketing and press department operating internationally – invited several customers and representatives of major international tyre media to a get-together in Singapore. During the reception guests were welcomed by Apollo’s chairman Onkar S. Kanwar, his son Neeraj R.S. Kanwar as well as marketing director Sunam Sarkar. Neither members of the owner family cast any doubts about their conviction towards success in the European tyre market and Apollo’s ability to come up the right “strategy for Europe.”
Also new as an exhibitor at Tyrexpo Asia was the Indian tyre manufacturer Ceat Ltd. which is the fourth largest in the Indian tyre market in terms of turnover (around £237 million). Until now the company has not actively searched for customers abroad, but according to Arnab Banerjee, this is all about to change. As the vice president, sales and marketing pointed out in an interview with Tyres & Accessories, although Ceat began to sell tyres to the European tyre markets only three years ago the specialist for commercial tyres was founded back in 1958 in Mumbai and started to export tyres more than 30 years ago.
In order to get a foothold on the European tyre market, products have to be suitable. Currently, Ceat mainly produces all kinds of commercial tyres, among which the majority are bias-ply tyres. Nevertheless, the company started to produce radial passenger car tyres 15 years ago in its two tyre factories in India and in Sri Lanka. On the latter market Ceat claims to hold a market share of more than 50 per cent, it being the only tyre manufacturer there. But because right now its entire capacity of 1 million PCR tyres is taken up supplying Ceat’s two home markets, there are literally no Ceat and Altura branded tyres left for export business; Mr Banerjee said local demand was just too high to also sell these tyres abroad. This situation will change very soon, the vice president promised. According to him Ceat is not only investing into the development of its own radial truck tyre technology but also into new production capacities.
As he continued, in the course of the coming years it is expected that there will be a strong increase in the level of radialisation experienced by the Indian truck tyre market. Currently the degree of radialisation is at around seven per cent. Within the next three years this figure should grow threefold, strongly influenced by the massive growth of road transportation in India and the upbuild of new road infrastructure that comes with it. Because the goal is “to be among the first” that will be able to benefit from the growing radialisation on the Indian sub-continent, Ceat is going to invest about US$200 million into the modernisation of its existing factories as well as into the construction of yet another tyre factory. In this new facility, Mr Banerjee continues, Ceat will be able to produce both radial truck tyres as well as radial passenger car tyres. Both of these products will be mainly earmarked for export markets. Construction work will begin shortly. Until the factory is up and running, Ceat Ltd. will import tyres produced in China under an offtake agreement. Such an agreement has been almost finalised.
In the two existing facilities as well as – after completion – in its new factory the company produces Ceat and Altura brand tyres. But because of an international agreement made with Italy’s Pirelli, the Indian tyre company is not allowed to sell its Ceat brand tyres on the European tyre market. Here the Altura brand will instead be marketed. The same agreement with Pirelli also covers the whole of Latin America; the North American market is a common market for both Pirelli and Ceat Ltd. As vice president Banerjee points out, both brands have an equal status in the company’s brand philosophy, although there is not a single tread pattern that is marketed by both brands.
In addition to these plans, Ceat is also considering the construction of a new production facility for radial OTR tyres, a technology that still is yet to be mastered. Such a factory would be erected close to Mumbai, and according to the company’s plans the first radial OTR tyre developed and built by Ceat will be available in about three years time. The first tyre produced there and all the tyres that follow will help fill the global supply gap which – according to Mr Banerjee – will last. Currently, Ceat produces 72,000 OTR and industrial tyres every year. The product portfolio mainly covers sizes and tread patterns in 25, 33 and 35 inches. Larger-sized OTR tyres are not available.
Ceat Ltd. also exhibited during the Reifen show in Germany last year as well as at Tyrexpo Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa, last September. “We have had successful shows and have been able to increase our brand awareness,” the vice president, sales and marketing explains. The same conclusion was true with regards to Tyrexpo Asia in Singapore this September. Participation in this show will eventually support the upward trend Ceat Ltd. displays when it comes to taking on Europe’s export markets.
The Indian company that can be regarded as the most established in international tyre markets is definitely Balkrishna Tyres, or rather, BKT. The specialist for agricultural, industrial, OTR and ATV tyres is based in Mumbai and currently exports its products to more than 100 countries. As managing director Arvind Poddar pointed out, more than 90 per cent of BKT’s output is exported. Among the most important export markets is Europe – where the manufacturer cooperates with importers such as RH Claydon or Bohnenkamp, Germany – and of course Northern America.
Balkrishna Tyres was founded in 1988 and initially operated one factory in Aurangabad, Western India, and since that time two more factories have been built in the New Delhi area in order to cope with the growing global demand for BKT brand tyres. It goes without saying that a company like Balkrishna Tyres is certified according to ISO-9001, and the company is particularly known for its modern agricultural tyre products. Even fast radial tractor tyres in small aspect ratios do not cause major technological difficulties for this Indian tyre company. It is in particular the “more mature tyre markets in Europe and in America that our best quality tyres” are made for, the managing director commented. Two out of three tyres produced in BKT’s facilities are agricultural tyres (about 65 per cent; an additional 25 per cent are industrial tyres).
As Mr Poddar points out, some four years ago the company also enlarged its own product portfolio to include small tyres for lawnmowers, golf buggies, go-karts and ATVs. It is the company’s plan to continue to develop and produce tyres for so-called “slow-speed and off-highway” applications.
That Balkrishna Tyres holds Tyrexpo Asia in high esteem can be seen from the exhibition stand it built for the show and which – like the stands from Apollo Tyres and Ceat – stood out in a double sense: it was among the largest and among only a few specially designed and built for the show. The Indian manufacturer was also exhibiting for the very first time during this year’s Tyrexpo Asia in Singapore.
Chinese companies in Singapore
It was not only Indian tyre manufacturers that helped Tyrexpo Asia to reach new heights in the quality of its exhibitors. Something the Tyrexpo Asia organisers point out proudly is that there were quite a number of well-known Chinese tyre companies exhibiting in Singapore (although the CITExpo was taking place in China at the same time). For example three out of the top four tyre makers from China booked a large exhibition stand for this year’s show in Singapore. The largest Chinese tyre manufacturer – apart from those companies partly or completely owned by foreign investors – is Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd., manufacturer of the Westlake brand as well as some other brands that are not often heard of in Europe: Chao Yang, Goodride. The company is based in the city of Hangzhou, not far from Shanghai. There the company produces about 13 million passenger car tyres as well as 4 million truck tyres annually, all of which are of radial construction. In addition to that Hangzhou Zhongce produces about 6 million bias-ply tyres, as Johnson Su, manager in the company’s import/export department explains. To sum up the product portfolio, Hangzhou Zhongce also produces some 4 million motorcycle tyres plus another 60 million bicycle tyres, not to mention tubes and flaps. Thus, it has a full line-up that even features (bias ply) OTR and industrial tyres. Almost all of these products were displayed at this year’s Tyrexpo Asia.
Hangzhou Zhongce – which is currently involved in an unfortunate tyre recall of Westlake light truck tyres in Northern America – and its import/export manager cast no doubt over their conviction that the company supplies quality products. In turn, they proudly point out their widespread network of international distribution partners, where we find companies such as Eskay Tyres from the UK or Delticom from Germany, the largest online tyre dealer in Europe.
In the future the leading Chinese tyre manufacturer will continue to invest into the modernisation and the expansion of its production sites, as Johnson Su announces. From early next year there will be a new passenger car tyre factory entering operation. All of its output will be initially sold on export markets. Together with UHP tyres the new factory will also produce SUV and 4×4 tyres as well as some light truck tyres. In addition to this expansion project, Hangzhou Zhongce will increase its annual TBR output from a current 4 million units up to 6 million next year. At the same time it will undertake investment in radial OTR tyres. Currently a major component of its OTR tyre output is bias-ply tyres although there are already some sizes available as radials.
As if underlining confidence in its product quality, Hangzhou Zhongce is also not shy in mentioning some offtake partnerships it has with major Western tyre makers such as Goodyear, Kumho or also the wholesaler Stamford Tyres from Singapore.
Number two on the list of the largest Chinese owned tyre companies in China – Shandong Linglong Rubber – also again exhibited during this year’s Tyrexpo Asia and presented itself as a complete line-up tyre supplier. As import/export manager Merry Wang commented, there has been a run among Chinese tyre manufacturers to gain a larger share of the very profitable OTR tyre market. Numerous manufacturers packaged themselves as OTR tyre specialists at other exhibitions last year, a phenomenon that was repeated this year in Singapore. As Merry Wang put it, Shandong Linglong is not just looking to offer “only the profitable sizes, but the whole range” of OTR tyre products. This is why the company earlier this year started producing radial OTR tyres and selling them worldwide, although there are currently only seven sizes available. As she continues, the line-up will be added to continuously in order to offer a product for (almost) every application. The decision makers at Shandong Linglong are convinced that, in the long run, the company will be able to establish itself because what is on offer is “quality and reliability”.
The dominant subject at Linglong’s Tyrexpo Asia stand this year clearly was the construction of a new factory in Zhaoyuan, in Shandong province where the company is based. The company is investing up to $250 million into this new passenger car tyre factory, which is currently under construction without the support by any joint-venture partner. When the new factory is fully operational in 2009 Shandong Linglong will have an annual production capacity of about 22.5 million tyres. This means that the company will have increased its capacities within just five years by about 240 per cent. The first tyres will be shipped at the end of this year. Together with the new tyre factory coming on-line Linglong’s turnover will also increase up to $1.8 billion.
Together with news about the new passenger car tyre factory, Linglong was also able to present a number of new truck tyres. Amongst them was the new “Linglong A928”. This new tyre reflects the general trend towards lower aspect ratio tyres. Although the latest product catalogue only shows one single size in this new pattern (385/65 R22.5), Mrs Wang pointed out there have been new arrivals in the list of available dimensions: 385/55 R22.5 and 315/60 R22.5. These products have been specifically made for the high demands of professional truck tyre customers in Europe, the import/export manager added.
Also showing increased interest in European customers during Tyrexpo Asia was Kenda Rubber. Its latest summer tyre “Kenda KR23” – KR stands for Kenda Radial – is a truly European product. As the Taiwanese company with production bases in its domestic market and in China (which it operates under a joint-venture with Cooper Tire) points out, the first KR23 tyres will be available in Europe this October. With regards to distribution, Kenda cooperates with some major importers in Europe including RH Claydon, Reifen Specht or Delticom (both from Germany). The KR23 will initially be available in sizes between 13 and 15 inches but from next year onwards there will also be 17 and 18 inch tyres, said James Lo, deputy director and thus responsible for the distribution of radial tyres at Kenda.
Together with the new KR23 launch, in Singapore James Lo announced the release of yet another new Kenda offering, a 4×4 tyre. “In particular we want to strengthen our 4×4 tyre business,” said the deputy director. This was a market segment where Kenda has been somewhat weak and currently have just four tread patterns. The new 4×4 tyre will mainly be directed at customers in Northern America although it will also be offered in Europe. In order to handle the – as expected – growing demand for Kenda products in the near future, the Taiwanese tyre company is currently planning the construction of another tyre factory in the People’s Republic of China. In the city of Tianjin Kenda will thus invest about $100 million. The new factory will start production in November 2008 and will have an initial capacity of 20,000 passenger car tyres per day, which adds to an annual production of 6 to 7 million units. Furthermore, the company has taken the decision to enter the (radial) truck tyre business in the near future – Kenda has the “firm will” to enter this business segment. However, there have been no detailed plans about the time schedule so far. Furthermore, it is not clear yet whether or not Kenda will build another tyre factory to this end or whether the existing facilities could be adjusted or expanded accordingly.
Putting a focus on OTR tyres
Among this year’s exhibitors at Tyrexpo Asia also was the seventh largest Chinese-owned tyre company: Guizhou Tyre Co. Ltd., which is based in Guiyang, the provincial capital of Guizhou. The manufacturer mainly focuses on various types of commercial tyres as well as the Advance brand radial passenger car and light truck ranges. The company is certified according to ISO-9001 and ISO-14001, a fact the company presents as a testament to product quality. The state-owned company not only produces tyres for its own distribution but also for several offtake partners from the West, the company reports. The wisdom of Guizhou Tyre’s decision to situate its OTR tyres at centre stage of its presence during Tyrexpo Asia was also confirmed by other Chinese tyre manufacturers.
Qingdao Qizhou Rubber Co. Ltd. for example has – since its inception in 1998 – mainly produced a range of commercial tyres. Since then the Qingdao (Shandong province) based manufacturer has embarked upon a road of ongoing specialisation. Four years ago the still rather young company invested about 14 million US dollars into what was called “project OTR tyres”, and by September 2004 annual capacities for the production of bias-ply OTR tyres had been driven up to about 100,000 pieces. In order to achieve this, a second tyre factory was necessary, and this new facility was equipped with “Japanese technology,” as the company writes in a publication. The OTR tyres that Qizhou produces are sold under the brand name “Marcher”; these tyres are only sold on export markets.
Only very recently, in August, the OTR tyre specialist announced plans to build the world’s largest OTR tyre. This tyre will be a 59/90 R93 L4 and will become available at the end of this year. In order to produce such a tyre Qizhou Rubber has adopted “environmentally-friendly polyurethane technology” which was acquired under license from Amerityre Corp. for about $400,000. The privately owned Qingdao Qizhou Rubber Co. Ltd. says that it will generate an annual turnover of about $100 million this year.
The particular interest the OTR tyre segment holds for many Chinese manufacturers not only leads to decisions to focus energy (and money) upon this market segment, the temptation is there give up the production of other types of product. As James Wang, regional marketing manager at Techking Tires Ltd., explained, the newly established company began by developing passenger car radial tyres but after a while changed its business emphasis completely to OTR tyres. Today, Techking offers one of the “widest line-ups of OTR tyres in China” – all of which are radial tyres, Mr Wang added. Techking Tires was founded just two years ago by a group of industry veterans was led by Tech Wang. The tyre engineer has about 20 years of experience in the tyre business and spent most of his working life with the Triangle group, the second largest Chinese-owned tyre manufacturer in China. When Tyres & Accessories spoke with Tech Wang one year ago, his company was just about to leave the “everybody’s market” of passenger car tyres and had started to invest into OTR tyres. All the necessary changes have now been made, James Wang explained at Tyrexpo Asia. In the early years the company was known as Qingdao Etyre International Trade but recently it underwent a name change to Techking Tires – a name that also doubles as its brand name. Now, as earlier, the company does not produce its own tyres but has hired an offtake partner in China to do this.
As James Wang points out, Techking Tires considers itself as “a supplier of solutions for OTR tyres.” These solutions are mostly sold outside of China, and Europe plays a vital role as one of the most important export markets. Although the company does not wish to see figures published about its sales and business activities on the various export markets, it says that Europe’s role as a sales region will remain as it is, provided turnover grows as expected. Other major sales markets are Latin America, Russia and Eastern Europe.
Currently Techking is investing into the development of 49 and 51-inch OTR tyres, which will be made available from the second quarter 2008 onwards. By the end of next year it will also produce giant OTR tyres in 57 and 63 inches, and while the company is not yet investing into the development of these tyres it soon will.
There’s no market without tubes
Most Asian tyre markets still can’t do without tubes, even when they are used in conjunction with (modern) passenger car tyres. Although there is no known statistical data, even in India – a passenger tyre market that can be regarded as rather mature with a radialisation of more than 95 per cent – there is still the habit to use tubeless tyres with tubes. The reason for this is, as market observers say, out of tradition. Amongst the leading tube manufacturers in India and major OE supplier belongs Rubber King Tyres India Pvt. Ltd. The company is based in Ahmedabad in the Western part of India and it boasts a long list of well-known domestic tyre manufacturers as its customers: Apollo Tyres, Birla Tyres, Balkrishna Tyres, Goodyear, Ceat, MRF and TVS. It is apparent that the company not only produces tubes for radial tyres but also for bias-ply tyres, as well as flaps. In India Rubber King exclusively supplies OE customers and does not sell on the replacement market. On export markets however this is not the case, and the company supplies both the new and replacement markets. All in all Rubber King supplies about 55 different markets with its products and the company, which was founded in 1993, in April began selling its products in Europe, said S.K. Gangal, head of Business Development. In this context he points out that Rubber King us the only Indian automotive tube manufacturer to have been certified according to ISO-9001.
Together with its tube and flap factory in Ahmedabad the company also operates a second production site close by. Apart from tubes and flaps Rubber King also produces bias-ply OTR, agricultural and truck tyres in this second facility. Furthermore, it is also currently considering entering the radial truck tyre business by sourcing them from an offtake manufacturer in China. At present, Rubber King’s involvement in the new tyre business is at a low level, as G.K. Gangal continued. In the mid-term there are plans to change this, the company has announced.
The Nexen Corporation was also present at this year’s Tyrexpo Asia in Singapore, although the company should not be mistaken for Nexen Tire Corp. The latter is the tyre manufacturer from Korea. The sister company Nexen Corp. in turn produces tubes, flaps plus solid tyres and tube valves. The company was founded in the 1960s and today operates production sites at four different locations, two of them in Korea, the other two in China. Apart from 50 million tubes and 2.4 million flaps that the Nexen Corp. produces annually, it also produces material for the retreading of truck tyres (350,000 pre-cured treads per year) and it also acts as a retreader itself (260,000 tyres per year). Furthermore, the company also produces envelopes for the pre-cured retreading process in an autoclav.