By Bruce Davis, Tire Business staff
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (July 12, 2013) — Pirelli Tyre S.p.A. is stepping up its emphasis on more ecologically responsible manufacturing processes and products at its plant in Silao, Mexico, company executives told Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto recently in Mexico City.
Pirelli will devote a portion of the $200 million investment budgeted for the plant through 2017 toward a "Green Performance" initiative, according to Giuliano Menassi, senior vice president operations, Pirelli worldwide.
Green Performance involves a range of research, development and process technologies that are designed to deliver a "green tire that performs up to Pirelli's performance standards," according to Tom Gravalos, CEO of Pirelli Neumaticos S.A. in Mexico.
The $200 million budgeted also covers boosting annual capacity at the 1-year-old plant by 57 percent to 5.5 million units of high-performance and ultra-high performance car and light truck tires for sales throughout North America.
In developing products with reduced rolling resistance, Mr. Gravalos cited Pirelli Tyre's development of the P7Blue model in Europe, where performance labeling standards are now in place. Similar U.S. standards are supposed to be introduced yet this year.
Demands from Pirelli's OE customers are driving the Green Performance initiatives, he acknowledged, noting that the capacity for car and light truck assembly in Mexico will exceed 4 million units in the coming years.
"It has become clear to us that having reduced rolling resistance products is clearly more important than before," Mr. Gravalos said.
At the plant, Pirelli will shift some of the budgeted investment to compounding and downstream processing equipment to handle increased demand for silica-reinforced rubber compounds, Mr. Gravalos said, along with the development of other, proprietary compounding developments.
Pirelli invested $200 million in building the plant, where production was inaugurated on May 31, 2012, and surpassed 1 million units on June 18.
The tire maker likely will pursue ISO 14001 status for the plant, signifying it meets accepted international standards for environmental management, Mr. Gravalos said, in line with Pirelli's global environmental targets.
Others attending the recent meeting at the Mexican presidential palace included: Mexico Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal; Governor of Guanajuato Estate Miguel Márquez Márquez; ProMéxico General Director Francisco González Díaz; Ambassador of Italy in México Roberto Spinelli; Pirelli Mexico Industrial Director Fernando Madeira Toledo; and Messrs. Menassi and Gravalos.
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