SRI disclosed the expansion project during a recent ceremony at the factory marking the plant's 50th anniversary. Those in attendance included: Lubin Ozoux, CEO of Sumitomo Rubber South Africa; Inkosi Ntandoyenkosi Shabalala, mayor of Uthukela District Municipality; Nomalungelo Gina, South Africa's deputy minister of Trade, Industry and Competition; Satoru Yamamoto, president of Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd.; Ebrahim Patel, minister of Trade Industry & Competition; Ushio Shigeru, ambassador of Japan to South Africa; and Cllr Zama Sibisi, mayor of Alfred Duma Local Municipality.
SRI acquired the Ladysmith plant and other assets in South Africa in 2013 from India's Apollo Tyres Ltd., which had owned it since 2006, when it had secured a pair of factories in South Africa and the Dunlop-brand distribution rights in 30 African countries from Dunlop Tyres International (Pty) Ltd.
In 2018 SRI added capacity for radial truck/bus tires in 2018 with a $62 million investment.
Sumitomo Rubber South Africa CEO Lubin Ozoux, said the anniversary for Dunlop comes at a critical time.
"With the backing of our parent company, we are investing significantly into our passenger car radial production facility to make a larger impact in the automotive industry," Ozoux said.
"The plant will be able to run a wider set of products, producing more tires that meet and exceed OE specifications, and that are safety-tested for all South Africans. At the same time, it gives us the opportunity to continue our investment in our local community and municipality, creating a vibrant environment for us all to thrive."
SRSA said the factory will feature "new high-spec, technology-driven equipment," and production processes will reduce the plant's environmental impact, aligning with SRI's global sustainability goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Ozoux said the new equipment will improve process capability and decrease overall plant waste by more than 60% once the investment is complete.
"Power consumption will be significantly reduced, and the equipment will also have the capability to produce very low rolling resistance tires that will meet help meet future emissions requirements for OE manufacturers who choose to use our products," he said.
The new mixer, he said, will result in an energy savings as well.