HOUSTON—Indian tire maker JK Tyre & Industries Ltd., which opened a U.S. sales company in June 2020 in Houston, is broadening its product portfolio for the U.S. market into radial truck tires with the launch of a range of Jetway and Jetsteel products.
For JK Tyre—the No. 23 tire maker worldwide with fiscal 2020 sales of $1.22 billion—the strategic move into the U.S. market is "in line to accelerate its global expansion efforts," especially a in a country where "our products have been appreciated in the past as well."
"The United States is a very important market for us, and we have witnessed steady growth since the inception of JK Tyre's arm in the U.S.," Managing Diretcor Anshuman Singhania said.
"Our trust in the overseas markets has resulted in higher exports, thereby ensuring substantial revenue growth. We are continuously updating the product portfolio to cater to the unique market needs and have comprehensive plans to strengthen our footprint in the market."
Radial truck/bus tires represent about three-fourths of JK Tyre's total sales to the U.S. market thus far, according to Western Tires Inc., the Houston-based sales company set up in June last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic-induced economic slump.
While JK Tyre/Western Tires didn't provide specific sales figures, the company did say the "market has continued to be dynamic with the sector bouncing back especially, with the recovery in the OE market."
Further, the company credited increased consumer demand and spending supported by the government stimulus for a continued recovery in the U.S. In particular, last-mile delivery fleets have benefited from the evolving economic scenario, JK Tyre said, which is reflected in growing sales of light and medium-duty vehicles and tires.
The Jetway and Jetsteel tires available to U.S. customers comprise 15 separate product lines covering primarily long-haul applications. The company has plans to broaden the range in 2021 with tires designed for off-highway applications.
Western Tires did not comment on pricing but said the JK brand is positioned as Tier 2 product. The company has a pair of associate brands—Vikrant and Celestis—that it offers for Tier 3 or lower markets.
JK Tyre is shipping radial tires to the U.S. from factories in Chennai, Laksar and Mysore, India. The company marked a milestone last year in its commercial tire business with the production of its 20 millionth truck/bus radial. The company has been producing radial truck/bus tires since 1999.
Kolkata, India-based JK Tyre considers itself an innovator in the truck tire sector, with research into smart tire technology at the forefront. The company has developed automatic tire inflation and tire-pressure monitoring systems through the us of Treel sensors for its commercial tires in India.
Western Tires is working through existing regional wholesalers and few individual direct customers in the U.S. to establish distribution of the brand, the company said. The company has as yet not established its own warehousing, so customers must be able to accept container-load shipments from India.
Western Tires expects at some point to have a warehouse in the U.S. as demand for the product increases.
Imports of medium truck tires from India in 2020 stood at 431,304 units, up 25 percent over 2019 and more than triple the shipments in 2018, according to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics.
Western Tires also is building a distribution base for the company's JK- and Tornel-brand passenger and light truck/SUV tire lines, which it sources both from India and its JK Tornel affiliate in Mexico.
JK acquired Tornel in 2008 with the intention of using that investment as a launching pad for building a sales base throughout North America.
JK Tornel operates three factories in the Mexico City area with manufacturing capacities for radial car/light truck tires and bias-ply truck and farm/industrial tires. Total capacity stands at more than 7 million tires a year.
Sales generated by the Mexican operation were 13.5 percent of JK Tyre's fiscal 2020 revenue, or roughly $161 million. Sales through the first nine months of the company's 2021 fiscal year were down nearly 27 percent, according to the firm's financial filings.