GYONGYOSHALASZ, Hungary—Apollo Tyres Ltd. and Hungarian government officials laid the ceremonial cornerstone on April 10 for the Indian tire maker's $615 million tire plant in Gyöngyöshalász, a community of about 2,500 roughly 65 miles east of Budapest.
“This is a significant milestone for us at Apollo Tyres,” said Apollo Tyres Chairman Onkar Kanwar at the ceremony, “considering that a few years back we didn't have any presence in Europe, and today, we are looking at having our second manufacturing unit in place. With the new capacity in Hungary, we will be able to further increase our focus on the European market.”
Apollo expects the plant to start production of Apollo- and Vredestein-branded tires in early 2017. At full capacity, the plant will be capable of producing 5.5 million passenger and light truck and 675,000 heavy commercial vehicle tires per year, the Gurgaon, India-based company said.
The site is at an industrial park near Gyöngyöshalász.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Kanwar placed the ceremonial cornerstone together.
Others present at the ceremony included: Neeraj Kanwar, vice chairman and managing director of Apollo Tyres; László Szabó, Hungary's deputy minister of foreign affairs and trade; György Hiesz, mayor of Gyöngyös; János Pásztor, mayor of Gyöngyöshalász; Gábor Pajtók, administrative government commissioner of the government office of Heves County; and Róbert Szabó, president of general assembly of Heves County.
The Gyöngyöshalász plant will complement Apollo's factory in Enschede, Netherlands, Apollo said, bringing the entire range of Apollo- and Vredestein-branded tires to the European market. The plant's location near Budapest puts it in close proximity to various original equipment manufacturers in the region.
Apollo said it already has recruited close to 90 technicians who will be contracted as employees from July 1. In the second half of the year, 150 more technicians will be employed, together with qualified engineers, to join the Apollo team.
Employment should reach 975 at full capacity, Apollo said previously.
The Indian tire maker settled on Gyöngyöshalász in September after a several-year search for a suitable European location.
The Hungarian government is contributing a package of incentives valued at about $125 million—including a direct grant of $62.4 million—toward the project, it was revealed at about the same time.
Apollo has been considering opening a plant in Europe since 2008, although the company opted then to expand the Enschede plant instead. The company revived the plan in 2012, only to put it on hold throughout 2013 as it pursued the ill-fated merger with Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.