DURBAN, South Africa—Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (Pty) Ltd. has launched about a $101 million investment plan, mainly to bolster its original equipment tire supply capabilities in the region.
Focused on the company's South Africa manufacturing plant in Ladysmith, the plan includes initiating local production of the Sumitomo Tires' brand, range extensions and quality enhancements to the Dunlop brand.
The investment comes at a time when the industry faces challenges from high manufacturing costs, tough labor relations and imported tire competition.
However, SRSA said in an Oct. 8 statement it is “confident in making the investment and has taken a long-term view of the South African motor industry and African tire market potential.”
The new product ranges will require significant technological enhancements and physical expansion to the 41-year-old plant, SRSA said. It also highlighted efforts to train plant employees.
“The Ladysmith plant is set to undergo significant changes over the next 18 months and we really wanted our employees to feel part of this process and to be excited by the expansion,” SRSA CEO Riaz Haffejee said.
SRSA currently produces tires in passenger, SUV/4x4 and light truck applications and will introduce its new range of truck bus radials in January 2015, which will be distributed both locally and internationally.