LAS VEGAS—Thailand's Vee Rubber Corp. Ltd. is adding 10,000 units of daily capacity for passenger and light truck tires at its Bangkok, Thailand, plant to expand its ability to export, especially to the U.S.
Vee expects the additional capacity to be on stream by mid-2015, which would position the company to take full advantage of any dumping or countervailing duties the U.S. is expected to levy early next year on Chinese tire makers, Vee Managing Director Vitorn Sukanjanapong said at the recent SEMA Show.
The company derives about 90 percent of its $130 million in annual sales from exports, Sukanjanapong said, with North America accounting for up to 60 percent of the export total.
The expansion, which Sukanjanapong said represents a sizable investment at the Bangkok-area factory complex, will create 400 to 500 jobs. The expanded capacity is in a self-contained structure with its own rubber compounding, he said.
Work on the expansion began about two years ago, Sukanjanapong said, and the company has plenty of property available at that site and others nearby to keep expanding.
Vee Rubber, which has been selling radial car and light truck tires in the U.S since 2008, operates one other passenger tire plant and two other factories in Thailand and one in Vietnam dedicated to two-wheeler, industrial and utility-type tires and tubes.
At the SEMA Show, Vee introduced two tires that will be available in early 2015, the Vitron ZR ultra-high-performance line and the Vitron Cross for SUVs and crossovers.
The Vitron ZR will roll out in the first quarter in 12 sizes, according to Patrick Hyland, sales and marketing manager for Vee Rubber America Inc., the Chino, Calif.-based importer of the Vee brand. Next up will be a refreshed touring tire line to replace the City Star line.
The Vitron ZR features Vee's distinct dual-nature, asymmetric tread design, which allows the customer to mount it either for enhanced dry or wet grip, Hyland said.
The tire maker is still fine-tuning the Vitron Cross, Hyland said, with better all-season performance a key goal.
Vee Rubber pitches the Vee brand as a reliable alternative to other entry-level Tier 2 and Tier 3 brands, including many of the Chinese brands, Messrs. Sukanjanapong and Hyland said.
The brand enjoyed increased sales during the 2009-11 run of elevated tariffs, they noted.
Vee Rubber maintains warehousing in the Atlanta area, Hyland said, but that includes capacity for the firm's two-wheeler and ATV tire lines. The company has three technicians on staff there for researching the U.S. market and to make product suggestions for the American market.
The firm is somewhat limited in the type of dealer support it can offer, Hyland said, so it concentrates on making sure customers have protected territories. In addition, Vee Rubber is working to keep its electronic data interchange up to date for reliable speed-to-market communications with customers.
Besides the Vee brand, Vee Rubber sells the Nika and Veento brands, but these are exclusive to Philadelphia-based Pep Boys—Manny, Moe and Jack and Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Discount Tire/America's Tire, respectively, Hyland said.
Vee Rubber was founded in 1977 by Sukanjanapong as a manufacturer of bicycle and motorcycle tires and tubes. It added car and bias-ply truck tires in the past decade.