More than ‘Just’ Tyres
The name of the Chinese tyre manufacturer Aufine is derived from the English words ‘all fine’, and according to the company’s general manager, David Sun, business these days is more than just all fine at Aufine. When Tyres & Accessories spoke to Mr. Sun at September’s CITExpo exhibition in Shanghai he was brimming with confidence about the company’s future, in particular with regards to export sales of its products and, more specifically, exports to European markets.
“For many people from overseas that we’ve met here at CITExpo, Aufine is a new brand,” observed David Sun. “Although we’ve been manufacturing tyres in China for 20 years, Aufine has only been exporting for one.” Therefore the new exporter of tyres from China viewed CITExpo as an opportunity to make new friends, so to speak, and Mr. Sun confirmed that the company’s main reason for attending the exhibition in Shanghai, along with promoting the Aufine brand, was to seek new agents in strategic export markets. To this end the general manager was able to confirm without hesitation that Aufine had been very successful in its quest.
Staff from Aufine had met “too many people” wanting to know more about the company’s tyre range, said Mr. Sun, who confided in being pleasantly overwhelmed with the feedback received from potential customers. The general consensus from the new contacts made through CITExpo, said Mr. Sun, was that they were impressed with the quality of the tyres and particularly liked the tread patterns used by Aufine.
Aufine exclusively produces radial tyres and the company displayed numerous examples from its wide range of drive, trailer and all-position TBR products at CITExpo. This Aufine range of truck tyres has developed something of a reputation for quality and durability on its home market, stated David Sun. He further commented: “In durability lap testing our tyres ran for 117 hours – some Chinese brands were only able to run for 17 hours. Aufine is known as one of the top brands in China for durability.” All TBR tyres produced by Aufine feature sidewall protectors and a structure that meets international standards. Mr. Sun added that all tyres produced by the company are E-Mark certified according to European Commission standards, a fact, he said, that attracted much international interest in Aufine’s products.
Despite this attention from overseas, Aufine is selling the bulk of its tyres on the domestic market – and this is not a problem. “Profit in the China market is much higher than when selling overseas,” explains David Sun. This statement was echoed by numerous exhibitors at CITExpo; companies desire to sell internationally, yet today for them home market sales are far more lucrative. At present 92 per cent of Aufine’s capacity is sold on the China market. Nevertheless, cultivating export markets is still a priority for the Dongying, Shandong Province based manufacturer, and Mr. Sun confirmed that Europe is seen by Aufine as a “first market goal for doing business.”
“I think in one to two years Aufine will be one of the best-known China brands,” said Mr. Sun. The confidence the general manager and the company places in its tyres is so strong that Aufine has even committed itself to a product warranty that goes far beyond that typically offered by Chinese manufacturers – good news for those whose confidence in China-made products was shaken by this year’s US market recalls. The warranty covers any Aufine truck tyre bearing the Aufine brand name and a DOT assigned identity number, so long as the tyre size is equal to or greater than that recommended by the vehicle manufacturer or the Aufine Group. Any tyres that become unusable due to damage “within the manufacturers control”, to quote Aufine’s small print, will be replaced by the company; completely free of charge if the damage occurs during the first 10 per cent of usable tread wear, and after this on a pro-rata basis.
In 2007 Aufine produced 1.5 million truck tyres. Next year, David Sun reported, the company will produce 2.6 million, and he added that, as the company’s customer base has continued to grow in recent times, Aufine will have no trouble selling everything it produces. The company’s truck tyre production will also be augmented by a new PCR range during the coming year. A range of Aufine passenger car tyres is currently under development at Aufine’s Technical Center in Dongying (an integral part of the company’s 50,000 square metre facility – Aufine claims to invest more than 8 per cent of its annual turnover into research and development), and it is planned to bring this range to market next May. The company has an ambitious target of selling 10 million passenger car tyres per year. While the time was not right to disclose specific details about the new range, Mr. Sun confirmed that the company’s focus on quality and driver comfort remained a priority, adding that Aufine’s goal was to produce “not only a tyre – instead a product that can contribute to the whole driving experience.”
By the time T&A spoke to David Sun on the second day of the CITExpo 2007 exhibition, the company had already confirmed its presence at the 2008 show. Aufine has booked a 75 square metre site in what David Sun said is a “prime location.” Next year the company’s principal focus will be the promotion of its new passenger car range, and Mr. Sun believes that its presence at CITExpo 2008 will be an important vehicle through which awareness of the Aufine brand and its new product line will be increased. “CITExpo is important for tyre business,” he said. “It’s definitely the most important exclusive tyre show for China.”