TONAWANDA, N.Y. — Sumitomo Rubber North America Inc. is preparing to start production of Sumitomo-brand medium truck tires at its plant in Tonawanda, N.Y., a move that should help TBC Corp. improve distribution of the brand it controls in the U.S.
SRNA will start with Sumitomo's premium SmartWay-verified ST788 SE steer, ST948 SE drive and ST719 SE all-position tires, according to TBC.
Sumitomo Rubber, by contrast, goes to market in North America with the Falken and Ohtsu brands.
The three tires to be produced at the Tonawanda plant feature Sumitomo's latest developments, including the company's 4D Nano Design technology, Aaron Murphy, vice president of commercial truck tire sales for TBC Brands, said in remarks prepared for the upcoming Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition in Atlanta, where it will be an exhibitor.
"With the addition of these products, fleets and dealers can expect even more efficient fill rates and better access to Sumitomo truck tires going forward," Mr. Murphy said, referring to the start of production of the tires in the U.S.
The ST788 SE steer and ST948 drive tires are both new to the Sumitomo truck tire portfolio, Mr. Murphy said.
The ST788, which features micro-sipes throughout the tread area and teardrop shaped decoupling grooves that improve wear, retreadability and durability, is designed for line-haul and long-distance operations that require superior mileage and a lower cost per mile in their tire programs.
The ST948 SE is a closed-shoulder premium drive-position tire with wide tread blocks to reduce tread squirm and increase miles to removal. The tire's tread face contains micro-sipes to disperse water and increase traction as well as a wider footprint that offers a consistent contact patch on the road. Tread depth is 30/32nd inch.
These two products are available in four sizes — 11R22.5, 11R24.5, 295/75R22.5 and 285/75R24.5 — with the ST788 SEs in sizes 295/75R22.5 and 285/75R24.5 available in Load Range H (16PR).
Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. announced an $87 million investment for Tonawanda in August 2016, saying at that time it intended to double capacity for capacity for passenger and light truck tires to 10,000 units per day by year-end 2019.
Sumitomo also added a technical center at Tonawanda to help speed up the development of new products and "respond to the needs of customers in North and South America."
The Tonawanda plant — opened originally in 1923 by Dunlop Tyre Ltd. — also has capacity for radial motorcycle tires.