LAS VEGAS — 2020 is shaping up as a year of resurgence by leading Chinese tire makers in the U.S. marketplace — albeit with tires sourced from Thailand, Vietnam and/or Malaysia.
Based on conversations with a number of Chinese companies that exhibited at the 2019 SEMA Show, at least five Chinese tire makers have begun production in the past several months at new plants in these nations or are about to do so.
They join a half-dozen Chinese companies that already have built manufacturing capacities outside of China, predominantly in Thailand.
Among companies preparing to recharge their U.S. sales efforts because of new capacities are:
- Jiangsu General Science Technology Co. Ltd. (JGST), which has opened a plant in Thailand;
- Qingdao NAMA Industrial Co. Ltd., which has secured production at plants in Thailand and Vietnam; and
- Prinx Chengshan Tire Co. Ltd., which anticipates bringing on stream a plant in Thailand in 2020.
These companies — and others — promoted their new manufacturing assets during the recent SEMA Show in Las Vegas, where they were exhibitors.
Like many other Chinese tire companies, JGST's and Qingdao NAMA's sale efforts in the U.S. had been affected greatly by both antidumping and countervailing import duties related to a United Steelworkers petition for trade relief from 2017 as well as the President Trump administration's sweeping import tariffs levied in early 2019 on a range of Chinese products, including tires.
The impact of these two events prompted Prinx Chengshan to put on hold in early 2019 its plans for U.S. distribution in the wake of the Trump administration's imposition of elevated import duties on Chinese products.
The company now plans to start marketing truck tires in the U.S. as soon as sufficient tires in the appropriate sizes are available, according to John Aben, president of Prinx Chengshan U.S. The company plans to use the Fortune brand name in the U.S.
Wuxi, China-based JGST — which is represented in the U.S. by TBB Tires Inc. of Los Angeles — was preparing to start production in December at a plant in Rayong Province, Thailand, dedicated to truck and bus tires.
The plant, built at a cost of $300 million over just 12 months, is designed with capacities of 6 million passenger tires and 1 million truck/bus tires annually.
Qingdao NAMA — a privately held tire distribution company that traces its roots to a state-run company — began offering tires in late 2018 from a commercial tire plant in Vietnam and a consumer tire plant in Thailand.
NAMA (the name derives from an Arabic word for growth or growing) offers tires under a number of brands, including Transking, Firelion, Milever, Haida and Mileking.
The company has been advertising the establishment of Nama Tires Inc. (USA), a U.S. sales office, since late 2018, but as yet hasn't set up a physical presence in the U.S., instead routing all sales inquiries back through China.