Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has opened Apollo Tyres' sixth tyre manufacturing unit, the second in Europe.
Located less than 100km (60 miles) from the capital Budapest, this is Apollo Tyres' first green field factory outside India.
"This is a reflection of the company's growth aspirations and manufacturing capabilities, showcasing some of the best practices available across the globe in tyre manufacturing. A highly automated plant with use of IT-driven systems and robotics, it employs young and skilled associates on the shopfloor, mostly hired locally," a statement said.
Apollo chairman Onkar Kanwar said: "With this inauguration of our Hungary green field facility, we have crossed another milestone in our global growth journey. This facility will help us further increase our presence and market share in Europe. From being a replacement market focused company in Europe, we [will] soon be starting supplies of our tyres to all the leading OEMs in Europe."
Built over 72 hectares, construction began in April 2015. The company spent EUR475m on the factory. Final capacity at the end of phase one will be 5.5m passenger car and light truck (PCLT) tyres and 675,000 commercial vehicle tyres. This factory will complement an existing one in the Netherlands and will produce both Apollo and Vredestein brands for Europe.
Apollo began in the mid 70s with a single plant in the rubber producing state of Kerala in India. It started making only truck tyres, became the market leader in the segment, and then entered other product segments. The company ventured into passenger vehicle tyres relatively recently (in the 2000s), but quickly became the largest producer of these tyres in India; similarly, it entered the truck-bus radial segment around 2006, and already has the largest capacity in this segment in India.
Apollo was the first Indian tyre major to make an international acquisition in 2006, followed by a second one in 2009, was also the first one to start selling India-made products in the European market, considered as the most advanced automotive market.
"The company is now poised to be a major force in key international markets on the back of its significant investments in R&D and manufacturing, supported by its brand building activities," it claimed.