Linglong's new Green-Max product family
Shandong Linglong Tyre Co. Ltd. headlined its participation in Brityrex International 2012 with the introduction of its Green-Max product family to the UK market. According to the company, the Linglong stand was visited by prospective customers, apparently “eager to discuss new developments and opportunities.” The new Green-Max passenger tyre range was said to have been of particular interest and representatives from Linglong’s global headquarters in China were also on hand to welcome visitors and answer questions.
Tyres & Accessories met with Linglong’s export manager Merry Wang and discovered not only that the company has been able to achieve BB grades according to the new European labelling standards, but also something of the meaning behind the company’s new Green-Max “product generation”. The approach is not as simple as a new brand, but rather “a product family” as it was described.
Before we go into the philosophy behind Green-Max, it is worth pointing out that the latest range is now described as complete (meaning it has products in all key segments) and that there are more SUV, UHP plus light truck and all-terrain 4×4 patterns and sizes on the way.
The quality is also said to have developed strongly. At the time of our interview, complete European tyre label data was not yet available. However, labels in the region of CC 72 and above are expected to represent the median in the range – obviously this means that there is also the possibility that certain products and sizes will perform better. What both these points clearly mean is that labelling is now a key consideration in tyre development.
Green-Max by Linglong
Now that we have established the performance and labelling credentials being attached to Green-Max by Linglong, it is worth looking at exact what this grouping refers to and indeed means. According to Merry Wang, Linglong is and, by implication, always will be the mother company and therefore the mother brand. “Linglong is our mother company and our soul,” Wang explained. However company representatives concede that – to westerners – there is a danger that the brand sounds typically Chinese and is therefore exclusive and inaccessible. Therefore the naming the latest generation of tyre technology as Green-Max represents a deliberate effort on the part of the manufacturer to reach out to Westerners and connecting with their markets. It is also an opportunity for the company to tap into both the labelling and eco-friendly narratives without forgoing UHP sizes.
What’s important to clarify is that this is not a sub-brand, but rather a product family or product generation. The tyres are still being referred to as Linglong, but this latest generation of technology has simply been dubbed Green-Max, Wang explained.
In addition to introducing the Green-Max marketing strategy, during a break from the show, Surender Kandhari, chairman of the Al Dobowi Group hosted a lunch in central Manchester to greet and introduce the brand’s new distribution partners from across the UK and Ireland.
Nigel Hampson, business development manager for LL Tyres Ltd. (part of the Al Dobowi Group and distributor of Linglong Tyres in UK and Ireland) stated: “Brityrex proved to be a good platform for the introduction of Green-Max and we received a lot of interest in the new range from the UK and beyond. We look forward to now growing Green-Max business with our partners and communicating the benefits of the programme across the UK and Irish tyre markets”.
Currently around 150,000 Linglong tyres have been sold in the UK during 2012 (year-to-date), making it the manufacturers biggest single market in Europe. However, Germany, France and Portugal are amongst the others focuses of the company’s attention. In the UK Bond International, which also exhibited with a significantly sized stand, is to distribute Green-Max tyres. However, Tyres & Accessories understands that this is currently under a non-exclusive agreement allowing room for distribution through other channels.
Thailand factory one of three new plants for Linglong
While company representatives were attending Brityrex, Shandong Linglong Tyre Co. Ltd.’s head office was publishing the news that the company recently signed a contract with Hemaraj Land and Development Plc to purchase 49 hectares for a new manufacturing facility in the Hemaraj Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate, located 150 kilometres east of Bangkok in Thailand’s Rayong province.
For Linglong, a leading Chinese tyre maker and one of the top 20 globally, the factory plans are something of a first as the mark the first time the company has sought to build a factory outside the People’s Republic.
Commenting on the news Wang Feng, president of Shangdong Linglong Tyres said: “Linglong Tyres has been granted privileges from Thailand’s Board of Investment for the production of radial tyres for passenger cars and light trucks with an investment of 3,500 million baht (£70.7 million; 88 million euros). Being a successful auto-cluster complete with upstream to downstream supply chain, Hemaraj ESIE is considered the best location for our new plant. Hemaraj is well known for its world-class industrial estate development which will be a key success factor for our project. Construction of the plant will start in January 2013 and should be completed by January 2014. We expect to begin production from June 2014, at a capacity of 2 million units per year.”
In addition the Thai factory, Tyres & Accessories understands that Linglong is investing two factories in China. The first is being built in De Zhou, Shandong province, about 500 kilometres from the company’s current headquarters. According to the plans, this facility will output 10 million passenger car and 2 million truck and bus tyres annually. The second plant will be located at Riu Zhou, in Guangxi province and will produces similar amounts of each type of tyre. Each factory is expect to focus on OE supply with one line and replacement and export sales with the other. The first is said to be strategically located near truck makers and the second close to a Chinese GM factory for passenger car OE tyre supply.