Heavy duty, high-performance radial tyres custom-engineered for trucks, buses and prime movers plying Sri Lanka’s roads and manufactured for domestic conditions, have been commercially launched by CEAT Kelani Holdings in a ground-breaking initiative by the company that produces nearly half of the country’s tyre requirements.
Part of a phased execution of Rs 3 billion investment announced in January 2018, the first locally-produced Truck Bus Radial (TBR) tyres have undergone extensive road tests in Sri Lanka and India for several months after the initial batches rolled off custom-designed Italian machinery at a state-of-the-art production facility set up at the CEAT Kelani manufacturing complex in Kelaniya, prior to their release to the market.
Finished on advanced machines imported from Europe, these tyres will cater to the rapid ‘radialisation’ of the commercial tyre segment in Sri Lanka, with truck and bus fleets seeking the running cost and performance benefits of radial tyres over Bias-ply tyres. The CEAT brand already enjoys a dominant 65 per cent share of the domestic truck and bus tyre market, of which about 55 per cent still uses Bias-ply tyres.
Speaking at the ceremonial launch of the Truck Bus Radials, CEAT Kelani Holdings Chairman Mr Chanaka De Silva said: “CEAT Kelani Holdings is a shining example of a very successful joint venture, with productivity improvements across our plants at Kelaniya post the JV. We have moved from the old conventional Nylon tyres to the tyres you see here today. With the introduction of TBR tyres which require the apex of tyre technology and with our new generation car tyres CEAT-Kelani factories are now producing tyres equivalent to any major international tyre producer.”
“Our investment in a TBR plant in Sri Lanka is a huge milestone not just for the company but for the market as well, because we will offer commercial radial tyres on par with the highest quality equivalents made in India, enabling significant import substitution on TBRs coming in from India as well as China,” CEAT Kelani Holdings Managing Director Mr Ravi Dadlani said. “These tyres have the important advantage of being designed and built to perform in local conditions to local expectations, while matching international quality and safety standards.”
The first locally produced Truck Bus Radial launched by CEAT Kelani in the Sri Lanka market is the CEAT Winmile AW in the 10.00 R 20 size widely used on trucks, prime movers and buses. The tyre is designed for carrying heavy loads and higher mileage, delivering better cost per kilometre over competitor brands, the Company said.
The CEAT Winmile AW is designed for a Load and Speed Index (a numerical code associated with the maximum load a tyre can carry at the speed indicated by its Speed Symbol) of 146/143K. Consisting of a natural equilibrium carcass design with high casing durability and retreadability, the tyre offers excellent Belt and Bead durability due to a high bonding belt compound and bead consolidated with high strength rubber and steel. A strong Krebs design provides sidewall protection, while the tyre’s balanced combination of ribs generates outstanding traction. The robust tread design with wider footprint coupled with a cooler tread compound assures higher mileage and uniform tread wear.
The use of advanced polymers in the manufacture permit TBR tyres to carry heavier loads than Bias-ply tyres, while better road conditions allow heavy commercial vehicles to drive at higher speeds because of the better traction and handling offered by radial technology.
CEAT Kelani’s entry in to TBR tyre manufacture would also benefit the rubber industry through higher procurement of natural rubber stimulating cultivation and ancillary industries, the Company said, disclosing that it plans to increase the number of sizes it produces for the TBR segment, while continuing to produce Bias-ply tyres to meet continuing demand in that category.
Considered one of the most successful India – Sri Lanka joint ventures in the manufacturing sector, CEAT Kelani’s manufacturing operations in Sri Lanka encompass pneumatic tyres in the radial (passenger cars, vans and SUVs), commercial (Bias-ply and radial), motorcycle, three-wheeler and agricultural vehicle segments. The brand accounts for market shares of 33 per cent in the radial segment, 65 per cent in the Truck category, 80 per cent Light Truck tyre category, 50 per cent in the Three-Wheeler tyre segment, 31 per cent in the motorcycle tyre segment and 72 per cent in the agricultural vehicle tyre category. The company exports about a third of its production to 16 countries in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Far East.