Although Giti Tire is a significant player in China with multiple tire factories and more than 200 fitments there, the Singapore company remains largely unknown in North America's original equipment tire business. But that's changing. The company is building its first U.S. plant — in Richburg, S.C. — and has landed its first U.S. contract with an automaker — for the 2019 Volkswagen Passat, to be produced in Chattanooga. John Aben, 56, senior vice president of OE and consumer sales for North America at Giti Tire USA, spoke with Correspondent Stephanie Hernandez McGavin about Giti's arrival.
Build a tire factory, they will come
There's a trend of new tire makers building in North America — what's up?
Today's game of gaining market share isn't so much about who has the better product. It's really who is the fastest to get the product to the marketplace.
How hard was winning the VW fitment before Giti was a U.S. manufacturer?
We probably have two years invested in the negotiation part of it, but I think the main focus was showing the advanced technical attributes that Giti offered to gain confidence, mainly among VW engineers.
What interests Giti in the original equipment business?
To build a brand, you have to take OE with you. By opening a plant in the U.S., we're showing dedication and a willingness to become a partner to all North American OEMs.
What comes next?
It's getting the OE fitments. We've been talking to Nissan, GM, FCA. But the next step is to build the channel to help service those vehicles once the car is sold.
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