With one-in-five vehicles on South African roads fitted with locally produced Dunlop tyres, the tyre manufacturer is forging ahead with a multi-billion-rand investment project backed by its Japan-based parent company, Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI).
This is set to boost local tyre production capacity as more Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) look to domestic tyre producers to meet their vehicle specifications.
The R1.7 billion investment drive was announced during the 50th anniversary of Dunlop’s Ladysmith manufacturing plant. The production facility first opened its doors in October 1973 and has since been at the forefront of tyre production in South Africa. Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (SRSA), the South African operation of SRI, manufactures Dunlop tyres and also distributes the Sumitomo and Falken tyre brands.
Speaking during a visit to the plant, the Minister of Trade Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, said: "I welcome today's announcement of a new investment of R1.7 billion. This investment will boost local production, strengthen the factory's output and support local jobs.
He added: “South Africa has an 88-year history of tyre manufacturing, and this plant is Africa's largest tyre producer. The investment announced today serves as a clear signal of the confidence that international investors have in South Africa and reflects the progress we have made with the SA Automotive Master Plan."
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SRSA CEO, Lubin Ozoux, said the milestone anniversary for Dunlop comes at a critical time. “With the backing of our parent company, we are investing significantly in our passenger car radial production facility to make a larger impact in the automotive industry. The plant will be able to run a wider set of products, producing more tyres that meet and exceed OE specifications and that are safety-tested for all South Africans.
Dunlop holds approximately 20% of the local OE market and has agreements in place with Toyota, Nissan, Isuzu, Hino, Tata, Scania and UD Trucks, effectively resulting in one-in-five vehicles on South Africa’s roads being factory fitted with tyres produced from the Dunlop Ladysmith plant.
The investment includes new plant equipment and machinery, such as a new mixer, new tread line, and new sidewall line, which will increase passenger car tyre production capabilities, efficiencies and product offering to further support the OE market.
“The new equipment will improve current process capability and decrease our overall plant waste by over 60% once the investment is complete. Power consumption will be significantly reduced, and the equipment will also have the capability to produce very low rolling resistance tyres that will help meet future emission requirements for OE manufacturers who choose to use our products. Our new mixer, with improved technology, will result in an energy saving of approximately 300 KWH,” says Lubin.
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