This year’s CiTExpo Exhibition took place from 20-22 August in Shanghai, China. Our correspondent, Satnam Singh, interviewed a number of Chinese manufacturers about their latest plans for the market.
Chinese Tyre Manufacturers Reveal Plans at CITExpo
UK based private tyre brand Davanti Tyres is in the midst of expanding its sourcing base in China. Currently, the brand consists of a contract manufactured range of PCR, commercial, 4x4 and SUV summer and winter lines supplied by two different producers from the Shandong and Qingdao provinces of China. The company says it is negotiating and will soon add a third contract manufacturer. This was confirmed by Michael Eckert, Sales Director, Mainland Europe, Davanti Tyres during the three-day annual tyre show CITExpo organised from 20th - 22nd August in Shanghai, although Eckert declined to share information about the location of the third party as negotiations are still underway.
The European brand made its debut in 2015 and now sells 2 million PCR tyres annually shipped to more than 45 countries globally. Production-levels will be further hiked after adding the third party in China. Eckert confirmed, “We would be adding at a realistic level 500,000 pieces to hike the capacity to 2.5 million annually by 2019.”
A wide operational area for each distributor is claimed to be behind the success of the Davanti brand. “We have one big distributor in each country, which gives a fairly wide market to operate and make money for our distributors,” he emphasised.
The private tyre label continues to forge alliances and cooperations with key trading houses to promote its brand in new markets. Earlier in 2017, it appointed Hamburg-based international trading house Terramar GmbH to develop the Davanti brand across the Middle Eastern market.
Shandong based Dongying Fangxing Rubber Co., Ltd. is considering a further increase in production capacity. Established in 1998, the Chinese TBR, PCR and OTR tyre producer is currently operating its plant to full capacity. “We are evaluating raising the existing plant capacity further depending on market demand,” said Liqin Liu, Manager, Dongying Fangxing Rubber Co Ltd in an interaction at the Citexpo at Shanghai recently.
The expansion plan is at the initial stages and is dependent upon improvements in the global trade scenario, which is tough at the moment, considering reverses experienced by the Chinese tyre industry in the international market. It has become difficult to export to some of the key international markets like the US and EU in the recent past, and overseas shipments are the major revenue generators for the Chinese tyre producers.
When asked, if there is any plan of a new plant outside China, Liqin Liu has not ruled out completely and replied, “It could be considered but nothing has been finalised as yet as it all depends upon how the market behaves in the future.”
The Shandong plant produces 3 million TBRs 2 million PCR and 100,000 OTR tyres annually under the brand name Glede, Opals, Naaats, Wind Long, Autostone & Himalaya.
The company has set up over 100 sales points across China, spread over more than 30 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. It also exports to more than 50 countries and regions mainly to Europe, Africa, Australia, the Middle East and Latin America.
In the EU, Spain, Portugal and Italy are the company’s biggest market, where it exports tyres under the Opal brand. Mexico, meanwhile, is the key market in Central America, whilst exports to the US are limited.
“We have the required certification to export to India, which is one of our important markets in South Asia, but exports to the country have been affected after the imposition of anti-dumping duties on the imports of Chinese TBRs by India,” she informed.
Duratti Group tyre producing subsidiary Shandong Duratti Rubber Corporation is planning to make a foray into TBR production in the future. Duratti has grown cautiously right from the beginning, and despite plans to foray in both the PCR and TBR segment, the company is currently limiting its growth plans to the PCR segment due to continued turmoil in the global market.
“The international tyre market has gone through tough times in last five years, therefore, instead of foraying into both segments, we prefer to put all our resources in developing our brand in PCR segment only,” said Luis, Export Director, Shandong Duratti Rubber Corporation Co. Ltd during the CITexpo tyre show.
Currently, the Shandong based tyre producer manufactures PCR tyres under the ‘Rydanz’ brand name. Established in 2013, the company launched production in April 2014 and manufactures 10,000 PCR tyres each day.
When asked if the decision to stick to PCR tyres was connected to anti-dumping tariffs prevalent in many markets on TBR tyres, he expressed the view that the market for TBR tyres is still open, and there is room for growth even in markets that have imposed high anti-dumping tariffs on TBR tyres. “For example, despite high anti-dumping duties in various markets of South America, there are still sizes open for import,” he said. He further emphasised, “If you have the right products and customers, you can sell tyres anywhere.”
Duratti’s next foray is likely to be in TBR tyres in the next few years. “This will definitely be the next step but no timeline has been fixed as yet,” he emphasised.
The company has not forayed into too many segments as it is a young company, and the focus remains on brand building through quality products. “We have to produce better quality products, even better than other brands considering low claim rates, to establish ourselves in the highly competitive Chinese market,”
On expanding PCR capacity further, Luis said, “The last few years have been difficult for the Chinese tyre industry. Lots of companies have gone bankrupt as they have kept on doubling capacity every year, and once capacity had increased to a level which their sales could not match, they were forced to lower prices leading to a price war in the market.”
Duratti’s strategy is to grow step-by-step to keep the operation profitable. “Our installed PCR capacity is in between 12,000-14,000 tyres but we produce 10,000 pieces each day and export 70-80% of the production to Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East market,” he said. The company believe it has enough PCR capacity for the next two years.
On pricing compared to other Chinese tyre brands, he said, “We are not highly priced but certainly not the cheapest. We are a profitable and healthy company and are not selling on losses by dropping our prices.” The company has plans to launch ‘Duratti’ as a hi-end brand in the future.
The company’s plant is located in Guangrao County in Dongying, Shandong, is spread over a floor area of 600,000 square metres, and employs more than 2,000 people including over 200 engineering and technical personnel.
Malaysia has emerged as one of the most favoured destinations for investment in the tyre industry from China. Tyre producers from China are increasingly looking for alternative bases for tyre production, and Malaysia, being a major rubber producing country, provides ideal conditions for such a foray in the Far East region.
Established in 2003, Qingdao based Chinese tyre manufacturer Fullrun Tyre Corp,.Ltd is currently building a new production facility in Malaysia. Fullrun’s Malaysian entity is incorporated as Golden Horse Rubber Sdn Bhd, and proposes to have an installed capacity of 3 million PCR and 1 million TBR tyres. The plant is under construction at Port Klang Free Trade Zone (PKFZ).
“The Malaysian plant is expected to commence commercial production by October-November this year, commencing with PCR tyres initially. The plant will also produce 500,000 TBR tyres in the first phase,” informed Vic Liu, Sales Manager, Fullrun Tyre Corp. Ltd during the China International Tire Expo in Shanghai recently. The production of TBR tyre is expected to be further hiked by 500,000 pieces in the second phase.
Fullrun manufactures tyres unde the brand names Fullrun, Autogrip, Antyre, Carbon Series and Fullway for TBR, PCR, VAN, SUV, LTR, AGR, OTR and claims to export 90% of production, with turnover from overseas business touching $400 million and domestic sales RMB 250 million in 2011.
The company has more than 1,000 dealers in 150 countries and has sold 60 million PCR and 16 million TBR tyres in last decade. Originally established as Qingdao AN-TYRE Trade Corp. Ltd, it was renamed Qingdao Fullrun Tyre Co., Ltd. in 2005.
Chinese tyre producers are increasingly expanding beyond their borders in the Far East as the cost of production is rising in mainland China. Tyre companies are scouting for new sites in the neighboring countries that provide cost advantage to their high-volume operations. An example is Guizhou Tyre, based in the Southwestern part of China, which is investing in a new tyre site in neighbouring Vietnam.
“We are putting-up a new plant in Vietnam as the cost of production is competitive there compared to China. Besides, the South-East Asian country has close proximity as it shares a border with us, which also provides an advantage to manage the tyre factory much better,” informed Jack You, General Manager, Guizhou Tyre Import & Export Co Ltd at the recently concluded tyre show CITExpo organised in Shanghai.
Guizhou Tyre is investing $500 million in building the tyre facility in Vietnam. Phase-1 of the site involves setting-up a 1.2 million TBR tyre capacity annually, and it will likely to be operational by end 2019.
“The investment is split with $270 million being invested in phase-1 and the remaining $230 million in phase-2. The second phase will commence in the next 2-3 years and also involves the building of a 500,000 capacity of agricultural, OTR, industrial and solid tyres in order to widen the product range,” he explained.
Chinese tyre makers are also looking for alternative sites outside the country in order to consolidate their US business. “The global tyre business is worsening, with the US-China trade deficit increasing in favour of China. The US started putting-up tariffs on Chinese imports, which used to be good market for TBR,” said Jack You.
Guizhou Tyres exported ca. 800,000 TBR tyres to the US annually until two years ago. “But now tyre shipments to the US have dropped to about 500,000 pieces annually,” he said. The company says it has diverted the extra production to alternative markets such as Africa, the Middle East and South America, besides increasing its focus on sales in the domestic market.
When asked if there is any plan to build tyre sites in any other region, You confided, “We are also considering to have a production base in Africa and South America in the future.”
Based in the mountainous province of Guizhou, the company produces 7 million pieces yearly including truck, bus, OTR, agricultural, industrial and solid tyres under the Advance brand, with the majority of production comprising TBR tyres. It manufactures 4 million TBR tyres annually and exports 30% of its production. It operates at 90%+ capacity utilisation levels.
Hixih Group continued to strengthen its cooperation with the Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli in August. The two companies have maintained more than decade long relationship as Hixih has contract manufactured PCR tyres for Pirelli since 2004.
Hixih declined to share details of the number of tyres it produces for Pirelli but General Manager Nei Fei emphasized; “We both are a family, and as a result our cooperation with Pirelli was enhanced further in August.” According to the Hixih website, Pirelli has invested more than €1.5 billion in Hixih factory.
As per a press release issued by Hixih and Pirelli, a new JV agreement has been signed by both partners recently. According to the agreement announced in early August, Pirelli & C. S.p.A. has reached an understanding to acquire a 49% stake in Hixih Rubber Industry Group’s new tyre production entity Jining Shenzhou Tyre Co. based at Yanzhou in the South West part of Shandong Province.
The agreement envisages that Pirelli will take over the plant operation and acquire a 49% stake for around €65 million with rights to increase their stake to 70% in the period from 1st January 2021 - December 2025. The transaction is subject to approval by relevant local authorities and is expected to close by year-end, the Pirelli release said.
The investment will provide Pirelli necessary production flexibility in the high value segment, considering the evolving Chinese market, anticipated developments in electric vehicles and the growing share of homologations obtained in the OE segment in China, Japan and Korea.
The Yanzhou site was established in 2005 in the Hixih Industrial Park with technical assistance from Pirelli.
Hixih Group and Pirelli are also involved in further venture, Tongli Tire Co. Ltd., producing tyres under the brand name “Road One.”
The Shandong based tyre company has not explored the high-end overseas markets as yet but intends that Europe will be the focus of marketing activities in the future. The company also commenced tyre shipments to the US at the beginning of 2018.
On further expansion of the existing capacity, the official said, “We have no plans to expand in the next five years and remain focused on promoting the tyre brand ‘Roadone’ besides improving the quality of our tyre range.” Hixih is among the few debt-free tyre producers in China.
Currently, it has capacity to produce 12 million tyres including 2 million TBR tyres and 10 million PCR tyres annually. It exports tyres mainly to the markets of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Despite tightening export norms in the some of the biggest tyre markets globally, Chinese tyre producers continue to expand capacities. Major PCR/TBR producer Shandong Huasheng Rubber based at Guangrao Town, Dongying City, Shandong Province, is building a new TBR plant while hiking PCR capacity at the exiting site.
“We are setting-up a new TBR plant in Shandong Province, the 3,000 tyre per day capacity plant would be operational by the end of 2018,” informed Majey, Vice General Manager, International Sales Dept, Shandong Huasheng Rubber Co Ltd.
The company is expanding PCR tyre capacity at its existing plant, which is spread over an area of 550,000 square metres in Dongying City. “We are increasing PCR production by 5,000 tyres per day by the end of the current year,” Majey said during media interaction at the Citexpo Shanghai recently.
Established in 1994, the Dongying City site has capacity to produce 25,000 PCR tyres per day, and post expansion this would increase to 30,000. The plant also manufactures 15,000 TBR tyres and 120 OTR tyres per day.
Huasheng exports the major portion of its production to the overseas market. It exports 75% of the PCR and 50% of the TBR to various international markets.
Commenting on the reasons for the expansion and the new plant, Majey replied, “We have experienced growing demand from Europe, South America, the Middle East and Asia, and expansion is in line with demand from these markets.”
The company has yet to register any serious downturn in tyre exports to the US market. “The US market remains stable despite the changing tariff structure,” she said.
Tyre manufacturer Jiangsu General Science Co Ltd has been consistently increasing tyre exports to Malaysia for the last few years. It exports tyres under the CTM brand to the Malaysian market through distributor CPC Tyre (M) Sdn Bhd. “We are targeting tyre exports of in-between 30,000 to 35,000 annually from 2019,” informed Vivi Chen, Sales Representative, Jiangsu General Science Co Ltd in an interaction at the tyre show CITExpo organized from 20th - 22nd August in Shanghai. Currently, tyre shipments to Malaysia are pegged at 25,000 tyres each year.
Despite protective tariffs raised in the key US and European Union market, the Jiangsu Province based tyre producer continues to send tyre shipments to these markets. The company has also pinned hopes on ongoing trade negotiations between the two countries in order to resolve the issue of high tariffs. “Despite high anti-dumping duties in Europe and the on-going trade-tiff between the US and China, shipments continue to these markets as the quality of our tyres is high,” Chen said.
With protective tariffs coming-up in large EU & US markets, Jiangsu General Science Co is considering building a production base in the US and in one of the South Asian countries in the future. “We have plans to establish a TBR/PCR site in America and in South Asia in the next few years,” she confided. The company declined to comment on locations and time scale for these projects.
On the growing demand in the overseas and domestic market, Jiangsu plans to shortly embark on an ambitious capacity expansion drive. “We are expanding TBR production from 4 million to 6 million tyres and PCR from 1.2 million to 6 million pieces annually,” Chen added. The company exports about 500,000 TBRs each year. The company’s tyre plant based in Jiangsu Province produces 4 million TBR tyres, 1.2 million PCR tyres and 20,000 OTR tyres annually.
Guangdong headquartered Zhaoqing Junhong Co Ltd is building a 6.5 million multi-tyre facility in the Malaysian state of Pahang. The company is investing $40 million in its Malaysian subsidiary, which is likely to commence trial production in March 2019. According to Sales Manager Jason Lin, the upcoming Pahang site is being built to offset the impact of anti-dumping duties imposed on the import of Chinese tyres in various high-profile markets especially in the USA and the European Union.
The Malaysian entity was incorporated in Malaysia last year as Maxtrek Tyre Manufacturing Malaysia Sdn Bhd (MTMMSB).
The subsidiary is based in Kuantan and is spread over a 240 acre site in Malaysia China Kuantan Industrial Park 2. The state-of-the-art plant is planned to manufacture 6 million PCR and LTR (Light Truck) radials besides 500,000 TBR tyres annually.
However, the tyre facility project has been decelerated recently as the tyre producer prefers to move cautiously after the installation of the new government in Kuala Lumpur. “The slowdown in the Malaysian tyre project is mainly due to the new government in Malaysia. We are studying the trade and investment policies of the new government and reviewing the pace of the project accordingly,” he informed.
Junhong is also investing about $20 million in a new R&D facility in the Malaysian Capital. It has joined hands with a local technology university to carry out research in rubber and raw material handling to improve the performance and quality of its tyre range.
Established in 2006, the $45 million mother plant is located in Linjiang Industry Park, Zhaoqing High-Tech Development Zone in Guangdong and produces in between 6 – 6.5 million PCR tyres annually.
Junhong manufactures and markets tyres under the ‘Maxtrek Tyres’ brand. It spends almost 3% of sales revenue on R&D initiatives, has more than 40 patents to its credits in US, Europe and China, producing tyres in more than 20 patterns and over 600 sizes for all season, winter, highway, all terrain and mud terrain range for sedans, SUVs and MPVs.
The company has sold tyres to over 90 countries with a strong OEM base in China. The OE clientele includes Foton, DFSK, Lifan, Xinyuan and Zotye mainly. “We supplied 1.13 million tyres to Chinese OEMs in 2017,” he revealed.
Chaoyang Long March Tyre says it will expand its TBR capacity in the next couple of years. Established at the beginning of 2003, Long March is based at Chaoyang in Liaoning Province. “We are adding 1 million TBR capacity at the existing plant. Currently, the plant has the capacity to produce 3 million TBR tyres and by 2020 post expansion capacity will be hiked to 4 million pieces annually,” informed Conquer Zhan, a company executive from International Trade Department at the recently concluded Citexpo in Shanghai.
The plant commenced production over five decades ago in 1966 and was originally known as Liaoning Tyre Group Co Ltd, but the plant was sold to the promoters of Long March in 2003. The new owners expanded have plant capacity from 350,000 to almost 3 million annually in the last 15 years.
The company says it has already acquired land nearby for the latest expansion. Now the tyre producer is in the process of finalising additional production equipment required for the expansion.
Over the last 15 years, Long March has expanded its range from 11 sizes, 8 patterns and 22 varieties in 2003, to 59 specifications, 50 patterns and 236 varieties. The company exports the majority of its production to various overseas markets in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. “We export 60% of the production to the global market,” said Zhan.
Tyres are manufactured under three brands - Longmarch, Roadlux and Lulishi, all regarded as famous brands in Liaoning Province. The company also supplies tyres to OEMs Dongfeng Automobile Company, FAW Group, North Benz Company, China Petroleum and China Shipping.
Tyres are produced according to EU REACH regulations and conform to the EU tyre fuel efficiency label regulations on rolling resistance, noise and wet grip performance. The ISO14001 company also manufactures tyres as per American DOT & ECE, Brazil INMETRO, Nigeria SONCAP, Uruguay LATU, Malaysia SIRIM and Netherlands RDW standards.
Qingdao Marcher Rubber is further widening its radial agricultural tyre range as demand continue to increase in overseas shipments. The Qingdao based tyre manufacturer developed its radial agricultural and radial OTR range in 2016, and commercial production of the new tyres started last year. “Currently, we are making about 40 sizes in the radial agricultural range while another 30 sizes are under development and will be launched in the next one to two years,” informed Mary Kong, Sales Representative, Qingdao Marcher Rubber Co Ltd at the 16th China International Tyre Expo 2018. The company was showcasing a range of construction and industrial, OTR, forestry, agriculture and solid tyres.
Marketing its tyre range under the ‘Marcher’ brand, the leading off-highway tyre maker exports the whole of its production to various global markets like the USA, South America, Asia and Europe. Interestingly, the company is based in Eastern Shandong Province but has no presence in the domestic market.
On what led the company to further widen its size range in the agricultural tyre segment, Mary added, “Demand particularly from Europe is increasing, although the range is targeted at all international markets. Demand from the European market is growing at double-digit rates each year.” It produces various tyre ranges in more than 500 sizes.
If the European market is improving for the off-highway tyre maker, the US market declined by almost 20% in the last few years due to anti-dumping duties on imported Chinese OTR tyres.
Established in 1998, Marcher’s production site is spread over a 93,000 square metre area consisting of an R&D department and production space of over 62,000 square metres in Qianlou Rubber Industrial Park in Qingdao. Marcher registered sales turnover of about $50 million in 2017.
Marcher has annual production of almost 1.5 million off-highway tyres including 100,000 OTR tyres along with 8,000 giant tyres and 20,000 radials, 400,000 construction and industrial tyres including 10,000 radials, as well as 200,000 agricultural tyres including 50,000 radials and 10,000 forestry tyres plus 800,000 solid tyres.
The company has all the necessary international certifications like ISO 9001, US DOT, CCC, REACH, E-Mark etc.
Sailun Jinyu Group is targeting an increase of overall tyre production of 2.36 million tyres in 2018 according to the 2017 annual report released in May this year. The world’s 18th largest tyre producer plans to produce 38 million tyres in 2018. In 2017, the Shandong based tyre producer manufactured 35.64 million tyres at an annual growth rate of 14.42%, while it sold 35.12 million tyres, registering growth of 14.16% compared to 2016.
Sailun Jinyu operates three factories in Shandong located at Qingdao, Dongying and Shenyang, and had the capacity to produce 40 million half-steel tyres, 5.4 million full-steel tyres and 118,000 OTR tyres annually respectively by the end of 2017.
“We export around 70-80% of our PCR and TBR tyre production,” informed Tom Wang, Sales Manager, Global Sales Division, Shanghai at the recently concluded Citexpo 2018 at Shanghai. “The EU remains our biggest PCR market,” he added. “Shipments to the US market continue to be affected due to the ongoing trade tiff between the US and China.”
The Chinese tyre producer is building a $200 million site at Tây Ninh province in neighbouring Vietnam, registered as Sailun Vietnam co. Ltd. The annual report further states the construction of the Vietnam site will conclude in 2018.
The total capacity of the factory is planned to be 10 million PCR tyres, 3 million TBR tyres and 12,000 tons of OTR tyres annually on completion. Sailun Jinyu also operates a natural rubber processing base in Thailand.
To promote international trading, the company has established a global sales division in Shanghai to market its house brand, Evergreen to 100 countries.
Vitour Tires showcased their semi-slick sports tyre range under the ‘Tempesta Enzo’ brand at the Shanghai show. The Qingdao based contract manufacturer concluded road tests of the high-performance sport tyre, which offers excellent handling ability, during track driving conditions. Launched in 21 sizes, the new series in 7-shape tread design has wide longitudinal grooves and high a rigidity shoulder design.
“Tempesta Enzo engineered with technology inspired by racing, offers maximum grip under braking and cornering conditions in wet and dry conditions,” claimed Flora Fans, Sales Manager, Vitour Tires at the annual tyre event in China.
With road test concluded successfully, the new tyre range is ready for sale in the export and domestic market. The range is designed to offer consistent footprint and uniform pressure distribution for enhanced cornering. It has a high response directional tread pattern with circumferential grooves that help in creating a consistent contact patch for a smooth feel. A special tread compound, the same found in performance driving events, helps in providing initial grip.
Established in 2006, Vitour is a major PCR player, also producing a small volume of TBR tyres. “We are mainly into PCR tyres and sell 3 million pieces annually,” said Flora. The company until now has only focused on the overseas market, with the whole production being shipped around the world.
However, the company has recently altered its strategy and is now looking to develop sales inside China also. The move may have been due to the tough evolving market scenario overseas, especially in the hi-end western markets.
“We have now introduced the brand in the domestic market from the beginning of 2018, however, the domestic sales are still small since it is our first year in the China market,” said a company official.
“We have been exporting all our production for the last decade but now we have much a wider range and sizes that could serve the domestic market better.” Vitour markets PCR, SUV 4x4, light truck radial, special trailer, and winter tyres under various brands.
Wanli Tire Corporation is in the midst of evaluating an overseas expansion. The Guangzhou headquartered tyre major says it is considering building a tyre manufacturing facility in the Far-East outside of China. “We are analysing the possibility of a new site in a neighboring country such as Malaysia, Indonesia or Vietnam,” said a source on condition of anonymity at the CITEXPO 2018 in Shanghai.
This follows on from a 2017 announcement that the company would be investing $1 billion in a new radial tyre production site in South Carolina in the USA. Wanli plans to make this investment over period of eight years in two phases that eventually offers employment to over 1,000 people on completion. The official also declined to comment on the status of the US plant.
The holding of US project may have prompted the Vanlead Group tyre subsidiary to look for alternative site for expansion in proximity to China considering the volatile evolving scenario in the international tyre business.
Wanli’s Guangzhou plant produces about 17 million PCR tyres annually, while the company’s Hefei Plant commissioned in 2016, produces 2 million TBR tyres. While Wanli is the Group’s biggest brand in export markets, the company also manufactures tyres under the Sunny and Aptani brands. It promotes PCR tyres under all three brands but market TBR tyres only under the Wanli brand.
The tyre maker has strong OE business as its tyres are being used as OE fitments on 84 vehicles produced in 23 auto factories including Citroen/Peugeot, Dongfeng, Nissan, JAC, FAW, GAC Trumpchi, Honda etc.
Wanli exports 52% of the overall sales volumes, with OE making up to 30% and domestic retail sales 18%. The company maintains 200 resale agents and 4,000 retail outlets spreads over the major part of the country.
The brand also boasts a racing pedigree, Wanli is currently first brand from China to sponsor the Japanese D1 Grand Prix, placing it in the same league as other major global brands Bridgestone, Toyo, Goodyear and Dunlop.