SAN ANTONIO — Sailun Tire Americas is rolling out its RoadX associate brand to the U.S. market, initially through a preferred distribution agreement with the Independent Tire Dealers Group (ITDG).
The rollout comes a few months after Sailun Group initiated commercial-scale production at the firm's newest factory, in Svay Rieng, Cambodia, said Christine Rouleau, director of sales channel development, at the ITDG 2023 shareholders meeting held recently in San Antonio.
While STA's distribution agreement with the ITDG isn't exclusive, it will be nearly so, considering the ITDG's growing distribution footprint — now covering 45 states and counting — and the strong interest expressed by ITDG members in the potential of having a proprietary brand.
The RoadX brand has existed for several years already in Canada, where Kal Tire is the exclusive distributor, Rouleau said. The brand has been in circulation there since Canada has comparatively low import duties on tires produced in China.
The product portfolio for the U.S. market has been under development for nearly four years and has benefited from the opening of STA's research and development center in Chattanooga, Tenn. The timing of the U.S. rollout coincides with the ramping up of production capacity at the Cambodian plant.
The brand rolls out in the U.S. in five passenger/SUV lines —RXMotion all-season, RXQuest AT all-terrain, RXQuest HT and RXQuest C11 last-mile delivery and RXMotion SUV — with additional lines being developed, Rouleau said.
A sixth line, the RXQuest RT rugged-terrain tire, is in final design/testing phase ahead of a third-quarter launch, with 36 sizes on tap, in metric, LT-metric and flotation configurations. The RXQuest will carry the industry's 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake designation for winter traction.
A tire for electric vehicles is also being considered.
Deliveries of the RXQuest, designed for the European-style delivery vans, which require a C-type tire, began earlier this year, RoadX said, in three sizes.
The RXMotion MX440 all-season launches with 53 sizes and is covered by a 60,000-mile treadwear warranty; the RXMotion SUV rolls out in 44 sizes covering 16- to 21-inch rim diameters, including 16 XL designations; the RXQuest HT is available in 26 metric and LT-metric sizes covering 16- to 18-inch rim diameters.
To support the launch, STA has set up a roadxtires.com website and an online portal for ordering.
STA plans to expand the brand to include medium truck tires eventually. Sailun already builds truck tires at a plant in Phuoc Dong, Vietnam, and is ramping up truck tire capacity at the plant in Cambodia.
Peter Greenberg, owner of City Tire Inc. in Springfield, Mass., is one ITDG member who's anxious to get the brand, saying it gives his dealership a product line that other dealers in his area won't have.
STA is marketing the brand as a Tier 1/Tier 2 quality at Tier 3/Tier 4 prices.
The brand is available by containerload only, RoadX said, with a maximum mix of 20 different SKUs and minimum of 24 tires per SKU.