ESSEN, Germany—Taiwan's Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd.—the 30th ranked tire maker worldwide and No. 2 in Taiwan behind Maxxis International—is ramping up an ambitious global expansion and modernization initiative.
That push will add radial truck/bus tires to its portfolio and recast the company's research and development efforts.
Kenda Chairman Ying-Ming Yang discussed his company's plans during the recent Reifen Show in Essen.
Among the capital investments on tap are plans for a radial truck and bus tire plant in China, new R&D facilities in China and the U.S., car tire capacity expansions in China and new sales/marketing ventures throughout Europe, Yang said, without disclosing the budget for the projects.
At the same time, Yang confirmed reports that Kenda had been in the bidding last year for Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., saying he felt his company's bid was of higher value than the one Cooper originally accepted from India's Apollo Tyre Co. Ltd.
He declined to elaborate on why he thought Cooper opted for Apollo's bid over Kenda's. Kenda and Cooper were joint venture partners in a plant in Kunshan, China, from 2007-11, at which time Cooper bought out Kenda's share.
Kenda's decision to expand into truck tires runs parallel to the Taipei-based tire maker's global expansion plans.
Kenda recently opened a European headquarters in Oldenburg, Germany, and hired Tom Williams, chief engineer at Hankook Tire America Corp. for the past 21 years, to head a project to restructure and expand the firm's R&D efforts worldwide.
The new truck/bus tire plant will be built on land near its existing car tire plant in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province. Site preparation is underway, Yang said, with production expected to begin by 2016.
Yang declined to provide investment or capacity details for the project, but media reports from Taiwan and China put the value of the project at more than $100 million for a plant capable of about 6,000 units a day.
Yang, who was present at Reifen to support the firm's expanded sales and marketing presence in Europe, said the plant's output would be directed predominantly at the Chinese market, at least initially.
Kenda's plan for a truck/bus tire plant are in addition to plans announced in 2012 for a $333 million factory for car, light truck, trailer and motorcycle tires in Huizhou, Guangdong Province, due on stream by 2016. That plant has been designed to produce 83,000 radial tires per day, Yang told shareholders at that year's annual meeting.
He declined to say how much additional revenue he thought the truck/bus radial business would yield. Kenda was the No. 30 tire maker in 2012 with sales of $1.06 billion, according to Rubber & Plastics News' annual survey of the global industry.
Last year Hongder Chang, Kenda's general manager, speaking at an international dealer appreciation dinner in Taipei, said Kenda's long-term plans are for $2 billion in annual sales, or double the current level.