Gyongyoshalasz, Hungary – More than 1,400 Apollo employees, vendors, dealers and dignitaries – including Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban – were on hand 7 Apr as Apollo Tyres Ltd inaugurated its first greenfield plant outside of India, a $505-million (€474-million) passenger car- and truck-tire plant in rural Hungary.
Apollo's sixth worldwide will have the capacity to produce 5.5 million passenger and light truck tires and 675,000 commercial vehicle tires per year once phase I is complete. It will produce both the Vredestein and Apollo brand of tires for the European market.
"With this inauguration today, we have crossed another milestone in our global growth journey," said Onkar Kanwar, chairman of the company. "This facility will help us further increase our presence and market share in Europe. From being a replacement-market focused company in Europe, we would soon be starting supplies of our tires to all the leading OEs in Europe."
The 1.6-million sq.-ft. plant is situated on a 180-acre plot of land located near Gyongyoshalasz, a community of 2,500 residents surrounded by rolling hills and greenery about 50 miles east of Budapest.
Orban returned to the plant to celebrate the inauguration 24 months after he helped lay the foundation stone of the plant, calling the project one of "national importance."
Apollo, the world's 17th-largest tire maker, has more than 16,000 employees worldwide, with sales of $1.8 billion in the fiscal year 2015-16. Europe accounts for about one-third of its global sales.
The Hungarian facility is Apollo's second in Europe. The other is located in Enschede, Netherlands, and operates under the Apollo Vredestein BV name. It produces high-end passenger and specialty tires.
The tire maker's largest facility is located near Chennai, India, and is one of four located in the country. Those four have the capacity to produce 1,450 tonnes of tires per day. Work continues on another factory under construction on the southeast coast of India.
Kanwar's son, Neeraj Kanwar, vice chairman and managing director of Apollo, however, has his sights set on the North American market, specifically the US and Canada. He said his goal is for 10% of Apollo's revenue to be driven by the North American market within five years.
To achieve this, Apollo would need to build a plant in the US within the next four or five years, according to Neeraj Kanwar. Apollo, he added has already has looked at possible sites in five or six states.
"The US clearly is my No. 1 priority going forward," Kanwar said. "It is important for us to create a strong presence there."