Blog 3: BKT Plant Update, Fury Tire Blitz and More

Bob Ulrich
Posted on November 6, 2019

It's Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the 2019 Global Tire Expo (GTE) in Las Vegas. Yesteday, I received a lot of congratulations on my pending retirement, and one heartfelt, "You S.O.B.!" Thanks to all of you, even John.

But what actually happened on the trade show floor? Here are some of the odds and ends I discovered or observed in Blog 3 of my 5 Blogs in 5 Days series.

Last year at this time, BKT announced it was going to build an off-highway tire plant in the U.S. In August, the company announced it was putting those plans on hold because of the "challenging economic and business environment."

On hold for how long? I had the chance to talk with Arvind Poddar, chairman and managing director of Balkrishna Industries Ltd. (BKT), and his son, Rajiv, joint managing director about the company's plant capacity. They said they have enough capacity options to meet demand.

All four of BKT's India plants are either adding capacity or have capacity options. For example, the newest plant in Bhuj has additional land on which to build. The other three plants are in Aurangabad, Bhiwadi and Chopanki.

In 2016, BKT produced 2,400 SKUs. Three years later, that number has increased to 2,700 SKUs. Early next year, the company will have a 51-inch OTR tire in production; by the end of 2020, a 57-inch tire will be in production.

Arvind said the company's board of directors will revisit the planned plant in the U.S. in two years.

Fury brand off-road light truck tires are creating some buzz at the show. In addition to displaying its lineup on the lower level (no H/T or A/T tires to be found in the booth), Fury Off-Road Tires LLC also fitted vehicles outside the Las Vegas Convention Center with its tires, including the flagship Country Hunter M/T in size 42x16.50R30LT. It has two new series for 2020: the Country Hunter X/T and UTV. Not bad for a company only three years old. 

* Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. made its presence felt at the front of the South Hall. First, the company introduced its Discoverer EnduraMax tire for small and midsize SUVs. Then nearby, more specifically behind Cooper's booth, its Mickey Thompson Tires & Wheels subsidiary showcased its tallest D.O.T.-approved LT tire, the Baja Pro XS. It will be available next year in 10 sizes ranging from 35 inches to 58 inches in diameter.

Leffler said his invention will "save tires that otherwise would have been scrapped."
Leffler said his invention will "save tires that otherwise would have been scrapped."
* Steven Leffler, owner of five Suburban Tire Auto Repair Centers in metropolitan Chicago, can add inventor to his title. Leffler was granted a patent for his Repair Boundary Indicator, which is located on the interior or exterior of the tire to indicate the boundary of the area of the tire that can be safetly repaired. 

"This is a safety feature that I'm willing to license for a nominal fee," he said 

* Was that a custom vehicle being displayed in the Kelsey Tire Inc. booth near the front entrance of the South Hall? Yep. And the Golden Sahara II sported Goodyear prototype tires that actually light up in different colors! If you don't believe me, visit owner John Kelsey at Booth No. 40019. Once again he is joined by his wife, Jan, who is recovering from a broken leg.

Related Topics: 2019 Global Tire Expo, 2019 SEMA Show, Arvind Poddar, B.O.B., consumer tires, Cooper Discoverer EnduraMax, Fury Country Hunter M/T, Fury Country Hunter X/T, John Kelsey, light truck tires, OTR tires, passenger tires, Rajiv Poddar, Steven Leffler, Suburban Tire

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