(Editor's Note: This story is part of our #TireBiz30 in which we feature one archived story every day of September to celebrate Tire Business' 30th anniversary. Each story represents one of the most relevant news story published in our pages for that year.)
NEW YORK — The People's Republic of China may be competing for the U.S. tire buyer's dollar by next year, if China United Trading Corp. Ltd. has its way.
China United wrote National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Raymond Peck in mid-January, requesting information on Department of Transportation procedures to certify both passenger and truck tires from China National Chemicals Import & Export Corp., Shanghai Branch, for export to and sale in the U.S.
"Right now, we are just doing some marketing research," said Deng Hongbing, project manager for China National tires in China United's New York office. "We can not say exactly when the tires will be offered for sale, but maybe we can hope for next year."
The Shanghai plant of China National manufactures both bias and radial tires. All of its truck tires are radials, said Yang Ru-tang, China United's general manager.
As far as anyone at either China United or NHTSA knows, China National is the first mainland Chinese tire
manufacturer to express interest in marketing its tires in the U.S.
NHTSA Chief Counsel Frank Berndt in answering China United's letter to Peck, said the agency had received a similar letter in 1981 from Deng Shin-Wen, chief engineer at the Shanghai No.1 Rubber Plant.
The Shanghai Branch of China National has been exporting its tires for some time now to markets in the Middle East and Asian subcontinent and selected markets in Europe and Africa, according to Deng Hong
bing. The tires are sold under the Double Coin and Warrior trade
Deng Hongbing did not say how many tires China National exports a year nor how many tires the Shang
hai plant makes a year. "Shanghai can produce quite a lot of tires" was as specific as he got.
Deng Hongbing also said it was impossible to say how many tires China National expects to export to the U.S. in the first year, should the export plans bear fruit. "It depends on the demand here and in our other markets," he said. "Shanghai is now considering some importing procedures," said Deng Hongbing. "When they finish, they will try to find distributors in the States."
To read about Miles Moore's experience writing this story and many more in the industry, check out the Tire Business' anniversary blog series.