HANGZHOU, China — Zhongce Rubber Group Co. Ltd. (ZC Rubber) said this week its tire plants in China and Thailand are back to operating at full capacity, which should allow it to meet its sales target of roughly $4.3 billion for 2020.
The company, China's largest and the No. 9 tire maker worldwide, said it intends to refocus its sales efforts on markets less affected by the pandemic, such as Latin America and Africa, which should offset partially reduced sales in the European Union, the U.S., India and other big markets.
At the same time, ZC Rubber said it held a groundbreaking ceremony on Feb. 12 on a Phase III expansion of its car, truck and industrial tire plant in Rayong, Thailand. The company did not disclose specifics of the expansion, other than to say the groundbreaking took place at the plant's "all-steel tire workshop."
Hangzhou-based ZC Rubber — represented in North Americay by ZC Rubber America Inc. in Walnut, Calif. — said production at its three plants in China was idled in early February because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, encountering "insufficient manpower, insufficient supply and poor logistics."
The company resumed production on Feb. 10, with more than 20,000 workers returning to work. The company said it "strives to ensure a safe recovery of the production," and sanitizes factory grounds and worker transportation shuttles daily while also monitoring workers' temperatures daily as well.
ZC Rubber has more than 9,200 employees at its plants in China and Thailand. The company claims daily production capacity of 120,000 passenger and light vehicle tires and 60,000 truck/bus tires.
During the outbreak in China, ZC Rubber said it organized a mobile rescue team to provide 24-hour free tire repair service for the vehicles of medical workers in the Hangzhou area. The company said that as people returned to work, several store owners of ZC Auto Space provided free sanitizing services for all its customers.
ZC Rubber said the pandemic will create "unprecedented pressure" in the global tire industry as demand declines due to quarantine directives around the world, as well as "turmoil brought on by exchange rates, oil prices and the stock market."
The company expects all parties to suffer, but "we still believe that we will overcome it as we united and resolute."
In terms of supply chain disruptions, ZC Rubber said it had maintained a good relationship with raw materials suppliers to ensure uninterrupted production.
"We will support our distributors all over the world while facing the challenge, and join together in a common endeavor to fight against the virus," the company said.
In addition, ZC Rubber said the impact of the virus was less at its Thailand plant, operating at close to 100% capacity.
ZC Rubber said it has distributed more than 20,000 face masks and other medical supplies to overseas dealers in hard-hit areas and is "prepared to offer continuous support on an on-going basis, hoping to tide over the current crisis and achieve greater successes in the future market rebound."
"The spirit of ZC Rubber, which is hard-working and fearless, will inspire the tires to roll forward," President Shen Jinrong said.