FINDLAY, Ohio (Oct. 7, 2003) — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is moving its production of radial medium truck tires to China and converting the truck tire manufacturing space at its Albany, Ga., plant to performance passenger tires and specialty light truck tires.
Cooper said it will source up to 350,000 radial truck tires annually in Cooper proprietary brand names from China's Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. Hangzhou Zhongce will make the tires at its 13-year-old plant to Cooper's technical specifications using molds and manufacturing equipment being transferred from Albany.
Cooper Tire Group President Dick Stephens called the move a “necessary strategy to make our overall product mix as competitive as possible” and an opportunity to “expand our current offering without significant capital outlay.
“We have been very candid about our plans to seek additional production in Asia to supplement our U.S. capacity,” Mr. Stephens said. “We have been traditionally known as a low-cost producer in the U.S., and we continue to use 'lean initiatives' to improve our quality and lower our costs. How much production we secure in Asia depends on the success of our efforts in the U.S. to make tires at the quality our customers demand at a cost which keeps us competitive in the marketplace.”
Daily capacity for truck tires at Albany is 1,200 units out of total capacity of 25,000 units, Cooper said.
The company did not disclose anticipated savings from the move or the amount of investment at Albany to convert capacity there.
Hangzhou Zhongce is part of China Enterprises Ltd., formerly China Tire Holdings Ltd. It considers itself the largest producer of bicycle tires in China. It operates annual capacity for steel radial truck tires of 1.3 million units, along with capacity for 5.5 million bias-ply tires and 3.5 million radial passenger tires. The company markets under the Chao Yang, Westlake and Good Ride brands.
Hangzhou Zhongce also makes conveyor belting and industrial hose.