BKT has considerably been expanding the location in Bhuj during the past years: By the end of 2023, the area will be increased to 323 hectares.
Foto: BKT
BKT has considerably been expanding the location in Bhuj during the past years: By the end of 2023, the area will be increased to 323 hectares.

English Section

BKT: Big tyres, big plans 

Within the framework of travelling to India for several days, BKT has presented its plans and goals to the international specialized press for the next years – as always supported by a big show and a lot of pathos.

BKT’s invitation had the motto “Enter the Future“ – Arvind Poddar, Chairman and Managing Director, as well as Rajiv Poddar, Joint Managing Director, together with their team outlined how this future was supposed to look like during a press conference. The management announced sales of two billion dollars as overarching goal until the year 2026. Compared with current numbers that stood for nothing less but doubling sales – and that in four years only.

Business in Europe together with its core markets in Germany, France and Italy will play a key role, as BKT generates about 50% of its sales in Europe. The announced sales expectations are closely related to goals already published in 2019 to increase the market share in the segment of off-highway tyres up to 10 per cent by 2025. Concerning a current share of between 5 and 6 per cent, this goal appears to be very ambitious. “Our vision is simple, and thus, it is very concrete”, says a very confident Rajiv Poddar. “The path that we started following in Bhuj in 2012 never contained a possibility to turn around but has always been a preparation for the discovery of the future”.

This future and the announced sales goal are based on a considerable rise in production capacities. By 2026, BKT will increase its output to 600,000 tons per year. “The worldwide demand for tyres has been growing, and we have not yet seen any signs for a slowdown in the next five years to come. This demand was rising already during the pandemic in 2020 and is above the pre-Covid level today”, explains Rajiv Poddar.

BKT produces its products at five locations in India, among which Bhuj will be by far the most important one for the future direction. Since opening in 2015, the company has continuously been expanding the plant and adapting to both the current needs and to its own growth ambitions. Thus, BKT has been running its own R&D centre as well as a testing course for AS and EM tyres in Bhuj since 2017. Moreover, the production has continuously been raised and reached a preliminary peak with 450 tons per day in 2022. According to company information, only during the past three years about 500 million dollars were invested in modernizing the plant.

Carbon black production as important module

Commissioning an own production plant for carbon black in 2019 was a further important step for the location in Bhuj. BKT does not only provide all its own locations in India with carbon black produced there but is also in the position of delivering excess soot to other tyre manufacturers or industry players. Apart from active soot, which is used above all for tyre treads, BKT produces half-active soot, which is mostly used for the mass of side walls.

At the moment, already about 60 per cent of the produced raw material end up in the free market. A further increase will be possible with the second carbon black plant that the group will build very close to the first one. The key data of the project presented in India already speak for themselves: An investment volume of 500 million US dollars is planned for the extension of the soot production by 70 per cent and an area of 116 hectares. The construction time is supposed to take about two years.

Furthermore, a third type of soot, so-called Specialty Carbon Black is meant to be produced in the new CB plant. In contrast to the soot used in rubber compounds, this coloured soot has special features like an excellent colour stability, a high level of purity as well as a very low level of PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Thus, this raw material is very useful for paints, plastics, and print colours. About 100 per cent of the material will be made available for the free market to support tyre manufacturers finding new customer groups with this new carbon black. In the framework of communicating sales goals, carbon black will play a key role too. According to company information, the new plant running at full capacity could generate up to 5 per cent of total sales from the carbon black business.

Supply for diverse segments

In addition to the expansion of production and sales goals, there will also be a considerable increase in the range of products. Firstly, crawlers should definitely be mentioned – the first examples of this product type have been available in the European market since the end of last year. The respective area of the factory in Bhuj – currently still in a pilot period – is to be expanded fast. BKT offers a total of three different chain types with a production of about 20 to 25 per day. More than 150 are to be produced in the future. In contrast to all the other types of tyres, which are also produced at further locations, the production of crawlers is to remain in Bhuj only. Dilip Vaidya, Senior President and Director Technology, announced crawlers for combine harvesters as further contribution to the range of products.

Moreover, the people being responsible in India gave information on further additions to the product catalogue: the Forestmax for use in forests – eleven front and back axles are planned – as well as new specifications of the Earthmax SR 468 R57. In the future, the latter is to be available in the versions 37.00 R57 and 46/90 R57. As of August, the Earthmax SR53 L5 60/80 R57 will be available too.

Furthermore, there was a hint towards introducing a new industrial solid rubber tyre. The name of the product has not been announced yet. There is some information on its prospective line-up though: 20.5 – 25, 23.5 – 25 and 26.5 – 25. Finally, BKT announced its intention to enter the business with radial truck tyres for OTR uses. The products designed for the replacement market will enter the market at the earliest in 2025. The new products are to fulfil the vision of Arvind Poddar, Chairman and Managing Director at BKT: “It is my dream that one day BKT will be the most admired brand in the off-highway tyre market”.

The BKT management team: Lucia Salmaso, CEO BKT Europe, Rajiv Poddar, Joint Managing Director, Arvind Poddar, Chairman and Managing Director, and Dilip Vaidya, Senior President and Director Technology (f.l.t.r.).
Foto: Daniel Willrich
The BKT management team: Lucia Salmaso, CEO BKT Europe, Rajiv Poddar, Joint Managing Director, Arvind Poddar, Chairman and Managing Director, and Dilip Vaidya, Senior President and Director Technology (f.l.t.r.).
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