RAYONG, Thailand—China's Shandong Linglong Tyre Co. Ltd. has commissioned production at its newest plant—a $115 million car and light truck tire factory—in Thailand's Rayong Province.
Linglong President Wang Feng hosted a group of about 500 suppliers, distributors and partners in finance from 180 countries and regions at the commissioning ceremenony Feb. 22, according to Linglong, China's fourth largest tire maker with annual sales of more than $1.8 billion.
Among those attending were Ning Fukui, the Chinese ambassador to Thailand, and Surender Singh Kandahari, president of Al-dobowi Group, a Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based tire distributor.
The plant was built in the Hemaraj Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate, about 95 miles east of Bangkok, where Shandong had secured a 121-acre tract of land a few years ago.
The local company is known as Linglong International Tire.
Opening this factory, the firm's first outside of China, fits the gaps in overseas manufacturing and helps Linglong push its global strategy a big step forward, the company said.
The factory is expected to have annual capacity for 2 million car and light truck tires initially, the company said in 2012. Trial production began in January—with the first tire out of the mold a 225/40R18 92W Green-Max steel-belted radial—with a long-term goal of 10 million tires annually, Linglong said at that time.
Linglong Tyre, originally known as Zhaoyuan Tire Plant, was established in 1975. It moved to radial tire production in 2001 and has been moving to establish the Linglong brand internationally for the past few years.
The Thai plant represents the first step in the company's “3+3” strategy outlined in early 2011—three factories in China and three abroad.
Linglong states on its website that it expects to have annual production capacity of 50 million units in place by 2015 and up to 90 million by 2020.
In North America, Horizon Tire Co. of Houston is the brand's primary marketer/distributor.