ERJ staff report (TP)
Anhui, China − Locally manufactured self-supporting run-flat (SSR) tires will be available for Chinese consumers from the end of 2013, according to Continental Tires, reported Anhui News.
The tires are manufactured by the Continental Hefei plant, located in Anhui province, with a total investment of €319m, Jay Dhillon, general manager of the Shanghai-based branch of Continental Tires Trading Co Ltd.
The plant is the company's fourth to produce SSR tires independently for the world market. The other three are in Aachen, Germany; Port Elizabeth, South Africa; and Mount Vernon, Illinois, US.
"The Hefei plant boasts a specialised production line for (run-flat) tires and customised designing capability − the most advanced technology ever in tire manufacturing," said Michael Egner, general manager of the Hefei branch.
"Chinese consumers now require more comprehensive knowledge about tires − especially in safety and comfort rather than durability," Dhillon said, adding that years of experience in the local market have showed that Chinese consumers' standard for tires has changed.
As the innovator of the run-flat tire in the 1980s, Continental has been committed to improving consumer safety and experience.
Continental is a partner of world-renowned automakers, including BMW and Mercedes-Benz. In Europe alone, Continental occupies one-third of the Original Equipment Market.
"Localisation offers Chinese consumers a wider choice when they choose our products," said Wei Wang, marketing manager of the Shanghai branch, estimating that locally made tires will have a lower price than imported ones.
"The first batch of locally manufactured (run-flat) tires is aiming for economic and mid-end vehicles. Over the next several months, more patterns will be launched to cover high-end vehicles," Dhillon revealed.
He estimated the annual output of run-flat tires in 2014 will reach 340,000 and 510,000 in 2015.
"Since its establishment in 2011, the Hefei plant has been dedicated to providing quality products tailored to local road conditions in China and other Asian markets. This is a way to put into practice the concept of safety both for our customers and our company," said Egner.
More than 3,800 stores, including 18 of Continental's Best Drive flagship stores, have been established in China.
In 2014, the company's China research centre will begin operations in Hefei, according to an agreement made by Continental and the local government.
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Full story from Anhui News