MTD Mid-Year Q&A: Sailun President Talks Plant, Products and More

June 18, 2024

Ron Dolan, president of Sailun Tire Americas, explains how products and a new plant – currently under construction in Mexico - will power the company’s growth in North America.

MTD: Tell us about Sailun Tire Americas' performance during the first half of 2024. What were some of the highlights and challenges?

Dolan: In the first half of 2024, Sailun Tire Americas proudly introduced a range of new products catering to high-end SUVs and touring vehicles and made a splash in the R/T (rugged-terrain) market, garnering positive feedback from customers.

However, challenges surfaced in the form of prolonged lead times due to logistics disruptions triggered by the Red Sea crisis and Panama Canal issues. Despite these obstacles, Sailun Tire Americas remains steadfast in addressing these challenges and providing best-in-class solutions to mitigate its impact on our customers.

MTD: How would you assess the state of the U.S. consumer tire market at mid-year?

Dolan: The state of the U.S. consumer tire market at mid-year showcases robust overall demand, with consumers displaying a shift towards being less brand-centric and prioritizing true value in their purchases. This trend is advantageous for Sailun Tire Americas as we actively engage in the value segment of the market, aligning well with the evolving preferences of consumers seeking quality and affordability in their tire choices.

MTD: Sailun was one of the first tire manufacturers to introduce an EV-specific tire when it rolled out the ERANGE EV a few years ago. How has the ERANGE V been received by both tire dealers and end users?

Dolan: The ERANGE EV tire from Sailun has been well-received by both tire dealers and end users, with positive feedback highlighting energy savings, low road noise and excellent wet condition performance.

MTD: What's Sailun's long-term forecast for EV tire demand and are there more EV-specific Sailun products in the works?

Dolan: Sailun forecasts a growing demand for EV tires in the long term. Despite some economic challenges affecting the adoption of electric vehicles, we remain optimistic about their future growth potential. While the initial hype may not have matched reality, we believe that as economic conditions improve, electric vehicles will gain traction, potentially capturing up to 30% of the U.S. market in the long run.

Leveraging our EcoPoint3 technology, which offers energy-saving benefits and low rolling resistance suitable for both EVs and (internal combustion engine) vehicles, we anticipate a continued shift towards environmentally conscious tire solutions.

Our upcoming products will harness this technology to not only enhance battery life and fuel efficiency but also contribute positively to environmental sustainability. Stay tuned for new Sailun products tailored to meet the evolving needs of electric and eco-conscious vehicle owners.

MTD: Are you planning to apply EcoPoint3 to other products intended for the U.S. market? Do you see commercial medium truck tire applications for EcoPoint3?

Dolan: Sailun remains committed to utilizing its EcoPoint3 liquid phase mixing technology across various product lines intended for the U.S. market. This technology has proven to deliver benefits such as increased mileage, consistent energy savings and superior dry and wet grip.

In the realm of commercial medium truck tires, EcoPoint3 holds promise for enhancing performance in long-haul applications. Sailun has exciting plans for incorporating this technology in commercial truck tires and over the next few years, customers can expect a range of new passenger car products from Sailun powered by EcoPoint3 technology.

MTD: Sailun has announced it will build a new consumer tire plant in Mexico.  When will the plant be operational? What percentage of products made there will be sold in the U.S.?

Dolan: Construction for Sailun's new consumer tire plant in Mexico broke ground on May 15, with the first tire anticipated to be produced by the end of 2025. The focus of this plant will be to cater to the United States market, with the majority of the production intended for sales in the U.S.

Establishing production in Mexico will bring several advantages to Sailun and its U.S. customers. By expanding operations to Mexico, Sailun aims to enhance consistency, security and predictability in the production of its tires.

This investment in Mexico represents a strategic move towards ensuring a stable supply chain for North American customers, further demonstrating Sailun's commitment to delivering reliable products and services to its customer base in the United States.

MTD: What will be Sailun Tire Americas' biggest priority during the second half of the year?

Dolan: Sailun Tire Americas' primary focus during the second half of 2024 and likely throughout 2025 will center around converting sales representatives and counter staff into enthusiastic advocates of (Sailun’s) brands. This objective involves implementing comprehensive training programs and engaging contests to foster a deeper sense of brand loyalty among internal stakeholders.

Additionally, the company plans to prioritize innovative digital campaigns and strategies to attract more customers and create opportunities for sales representatives and counter staff to excel in promoting the brand's products and services.

About the Author

Mike Manges | Editor

Mike Manges is Modern Tire Dealer’s editor. A 25-year tire industry veteran, he is a three-time International Automotive Media Association award winner and holds a Gold Award from the Association of Automotive Publication Editors. Mike has traveled the world in pursuit of stories that will help independent tire dealers move their businesses forward. Before rejoining MTD in September 2019, he held corporate communications positions at two Fortune 500 companies and served as MTD’s senior editor from 2000 to 2010.