Mary has over 20 years experience as the editor of our Malaysian sister magazine, The Tyreman. Based in Kuala Lumpur, she writes articles for us on the Malaysian and other South East Asian markets.
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“We have been selling Falken truck tyres directly to end-users in Malaysia since 1998. However, it was only in recent years that Falken developed a complete truck tyre range that covers most of the light trucks, trucks and buses operating on the road. Previously we only have Falken tube type radial truck tyres but now we have tubeless and super singles as well,” said Chiang Chia Heng, Assistant Fleet Manager of Stamford Retread Industries (M) Sdn Bhd.
The company brought in two new light truck models, the RI-128 and GI-377; both are tubeless radial tyres to replace the current tube type radials. The former replaces the 215/75.17.5 while the latter replaces the 225/80R17.5.
Featuring a rib pattern that was designed mainly for steering and trailer axle for highway use, he said the RI-128 utilised a new tread compound for increased mileage and enhanced wear performance. It was also described as durable with excellent handling at high speed and its kerb guard on sidewalls resisted cuts and abrasions when running closely to corners and edges. Its straight grooves and stress dispersion sipes promoted even wear and contributed to ‘exceptional’ wet traction.
He continued that the GI-377 had a rib/lug pattern that was designed for all-position use on the highway. It also offered excellent value for long mileages, resistance to regular wear and traction performance.
Both models, which were suitable for Malaysian applications, road conditions and weather according to Chiang, were said to have received good feedback from the market. In addition, they could be retreadable for two times if the casings were well maintained.
“Currently, there are about 30 to 40 per cent of light trucks that are running on bias tyres in our country, which means there is still room for growth. Five of us, including me, make up a special team that focuses solely on the truck segment, covering the southern, northern and eastern regions of Malaysia and East Malaysia.”
To ramp up penetration into the truck market, he revealed that the company changed its strategy. “We deal directly with end-users only in the Port Klang area and have our wholly owned truck centre located there. For the other parts of Malaysia, we go through dealers and wholesalers. At present, we have 20 Falken dealers and we do wish to expand the network.”
Chiang admitted that the Falken presence in the local truck tyre replacement market was small compared to many of its rivals, but with the increasing positive feedback from the market, he was confident that it could play a larger role.
“Our range of Truck and Bus Radial (TBR) tyres and Light Truck Radial (LTR) tyres are imported directly from Japan, and we are offering them at competitive prices. Thus, we are offering reliable tyres with high quality that actually give our customers the best value for their money.”
Consistent stock availability, he said, was also important. To ensure that, the company would keep a sufficient amount of tyres in stock that could last them 2-3 months, regardless of the economic situation. He revealed that the company was in the process of moving to new and bigger premises that would allow them to accommodate a warehouse
“We are also looking at certain OE segments and have managed to penetrate some of the segments through working closely with our dealers,” he added.
Apart from Falken, the company also distributed other brands of truck tyres, including its own house brand Sumo Firenza, DRC tyres and Sumo Akina. However, he said, only Falken and Sumo Firenza offered light truck radials.
“While Falken is our main focus, our different brands allow us to cater for the various needs of the market.”
Moving forward, he said, the company would have a new product launch together with product training for the dealers next year. Also in the pipeline were plans to open more truck centres in major cities. “We have worked closely with our dealer in Johor Bahru and opened our truck centre there. This is our first truck centre that is not owned by us but our dealer who is committed to grow our truck tyres in the market.”
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