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Pirelli opens its first plant in Mexico

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Pirelli opens its first plant in Mexico

How important to company and country is the new Pirelli tire plant in Silao, Guanajuato, Mexico? Pirelli & Cie SpA Chairman and CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera was on hand for the recent inauguration. So was Mexican President Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa.

In 2012 alone, the plant will produce 400,000 high and ultra-high performance tires for North America. At full capacity in five years, it will produce 5.5 million tires.

The plant’s focus on premium performance tires — “part of the market that is driven by technology,” according to Tronchetti — is in line with the company’s “2011-2013 Industrial Plan.” So is Pirelli’s emphasis on “prestige” original equipment fitments with brands such as Audi and Porsche.

Fill rates and efficiency

Tronchetti estimates the high and UHP tire segment represents 12% of the passenger tire market worldwide, “and it’s growing much faster than the growth of the global market.”

The Italian company already has boosted tire capacity in Slatina, Romania; Yanzhou, China; and Rome, Ga. It isn’t enough, he says. “We’re not able to keep up with the demand of our customers.”

The state-of-the-art plant in Mexico will help Pirelli meet demand in a timely manner. As Tronchetti says, four-day delivery from Mexico is better than 45 days from Brazil.

When another plant is needed, Pirelli is ready. Tronchetti says he expects a plant that mirrors the existing 1.45 million-square-foot plant in Mexico to one day become a reality. And it can be built right next to it.

Environmentally friendly

The tire plant is part of an industrial park that also produces Audi and Mazda vehicles and Volkswagen engines.

For six years, President Calderón has worked to help build the infrastructure necessary to entice manufacturers to the park. It has been a labor of love, too: At the inauguration, he said he loves Formula One racing (Pirelli is the sole tire supplier to F1), cars and tires!

The event gave him the chance to publicly thank Pirelli for building an environmentally friendly, energy-efficient manufacturing facility in Mexico.

The plant is designed to optimize water consumption and electrical energy usage with the help of a residual water treatment center and sensors installed throughout the factory. Pirelli also is committed to producing high performance tires with lower rolling resistance, another of the company’s “environmental sustainability” goals.

Ferrari and fill rates

Paulo Ferrari, the new chairman and CEO of Pirelli Tire North America Inc. and Pirelli Tire LLC, says one of his main goals is to keep fill rates going up.

“The service level (in terms of fill rates) has improved, on average, for all our customers,” he says. Eventually having 5.5 million tires from Mexico at his disposal will help even more.

There are no plans to add to the five modules at the Rome, Ga., MIRS (Modular Integrated Robotized System) plant. Ferrari says original equipment tires account for 60% of Rome’s production, although he is looking at increasing the percentage of replacement tires from the facility. Some OE tires also will come from Mexico.

Ferrari says dealers can expect more capacity from the Pirelli Group overall in the third and fourth quarters. In addition, the new marketing approach “will be fully in place.” The expected result is double-digit growth in premium consumer tire volume in North America, and a 2% to 3% increase in market share.    ■



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