Durban, South Africa – Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (Pty) Ltd (SRSA) has launched a R1.1-billion (€80 million) investment plan, mainly to beef up its OE 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 labour relations and imported tire competition.
However, SRSA is "confident in making the investment and has taken a long-term view of the South African motor industry and African tire market potential," said an 8 Oct company statement.
The new product ranges will require significant technological enhancements and physical expansion to the 41-year-old plant, according to SRSA. It also highlighted efforts to upskill the workers at the plant and ensure their buy-in to the project.
"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," explains Riaz Haffejee, CEO of SRSA.
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.