By Bruce Davis, Tire Business staff
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (Sept. 20, 2013) — Chinese tire manufacturer GITI Tire Pte. Ltd. will set up technical centers in the U.S. and Germany in the coming months to enhance the firm's research and development capabilities.
Singapore-based GITI Tire intends to establish the centers in Akron, Ohio, and Hannover, Germany, under the direction of tire industry veterans Hamid Aboutorabi and Stefan Fischer, respectively.
GITI did not disclose the expected investment for these projects nor specific timetables.
The new centers will collaborate with existing GITI facilities in China, Indonesia and England, the latter of which is based at the MIRA facility. GITI employs more than 600 in R&D functions.
Mr. Aboutorabi is a 23-year veteran of the tire industry, including 17 years as manager of research and engineering services with Kumho America Technical Center in Akron. He also was a senior research engineer for six years with Goodyear.
"North America represents huge and diverse tire markets with evolving consumer expectations and regulations relating to tire labeling and fuel economy," Mr. Aboutorabi said. "We will be working hand-in-hand with every GITI Tire R&D center and will use our collective knowledge and experiences to develop specific products that are best-in-class, utilizing cutting-edge materials and design technologies.
"The location is pivotal in ensuring the center's success," he added. "Akron is still the rubber capital of the world."
GITI did not say how many employees there would be at either site.
In the U.S., the the R&D team will design and develop tires for the North American market across the firm's portfolio of brands, ranging from passenger car to heavy truck and bus tires.
Mr. Aboutorabi will report to Phang Wai Yeen, executive director, R&D, at GITI Tire and Herve Richert, executive director, sales and marketing (international) and president of Giti Tire (USA) Ltd. Mr. Aboutorabi will sit on both the North American and global R&D leadership teams.
"This is not just a marker for our commitment to North America, but to improving our products and credentials worldwide," said Julianto Djajadi, executive vice president, business operations for Giti Tire (USA).
"The two sites mark a significant investment, but as we strive to position all our brands as best-in-class in their various market segments, it is essential we continue to drive for excellence and deliver the best value for our dealers and consumers."
GITI said Mr. Fischer brings more than 18 years of experience to his new position, but did not provide details of his previous employers. He will sit both on the European and the global R&D leadership teams.
"With the new technical centers we have created one global R&D team which brings together the very best people and technologies across the U.S., Europe, China and Indonesia," Mr. Phang said, "and in doing so we are becoming a strong technology driven partner of the automotive industry,"
"The appointments of Stefan and Hamid clearly highlight the excellent worldwide reputation of the company, and also its ambitions moving forward," added Mr. Richert. "They are welcome additions to what is an already exceptional worldwide R&D team."
GITI Tire is considered the world's No. 15 tire maker, with 2012 sales of $2.7 billion. It also holds a 49.7-percent share of Indonesia's P.T. Gajah Tunggal TBK, which reported $1.25 billion in sales last year on its own accord.