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Sumitomo celebrates 50 years of Dunlop tire production in South Africa with investment announcement

Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (SRSA) has announced a R1.7bn (US$88m) investment in its Dunlop tires manufacturing facility in the country. Backed by its Japan-based parent company, Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI), the investment will boost the brand’s tire production capacity as more OEMs look to domestic tire producers to meet their vehicle specifications.

The investment was announced during the 50th anniversary of the Dunlop manufacturing plant in the country. While the facility produces Dunlop tires, SRSA also distributes the Sumitomo and Falken brands.

“South Africa has an 88-year history of tire manufacturing and this plant is Africa’s largest tire producer,” said South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel during a visit to the plant. “This investment will provide a boost to local production, strengthen the factory’s output and support local jobs. Furthermore, the new investment will aid in the modernization and improvement of the plant.”

Dunlop holds approximately 20% of the local original equipment market and has agreements in place with Toyota, Nissan, Isuzu, Hino, Tata, Scania and UD Trucks. The investment includes new plant equipment and machinery, such as a new mixer, tread line and sidewall line, which will increase passenger car tire production capabilities, efficiencies and product offering to further support the OE market. This comes off the back of SRSA’s multi-million dollar investment in 2018 in a 180,000m² truck and bus radial (TBR) factory at the plant, facilitating local manufacture of truck and bus tires.

“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,” said SRSA CEO Lubin Ozoux. “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.”

With demand for global environmental impact reduction from the automotive industry, Dunlop’s new equipment and production processes aim to reduce the plant’s environmental impact, aligned to SRI’s global sustainability goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“The new equipment will improve current process capability and decrease our overall plant waste by over 60% once the investment is complete,” said Ozoux. “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. Our new mixer, with improved technology, will result in an energy saving of approximately 300kWh.”

SRSA holds strong market share in Africa with a branded presence in 23 African countries, supplying car, van and SUV tires to Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“The time is always right for investment and development, and we thank the relevant stakeholders and partners for lending their support to a conducive manufacturing industry. We are excited to see what the next 50 years hold for Dunlop, for the community and the greater OE manufacturing industry nationally,” said Ozoux.

Pictured at the 50th anniversary of the Dunlop Ladysmith plant were (left to right) Lubin Ozoux, CEO of Sumitomo Rubber South Africa; Inkosi Ntandoyenkosi Shabalala, Mayor of Uthukela District Municipality; Nomalungelo Gina, Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition; Satoru Yamamoto, president of Sumitomo Rubber Industries; Minister of Trade Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel; Ushio Shigeru, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of South Africa; Cllr Zama Sibisi, Mayor of Alfred Duma Local Municipality.