Japan's top tiremaker Bridgestone said Dec. 21 it will build its first new plant at home in 30 years as it expands in targeted areas despite a difficult period in the industry. The plant will produce large and ultra-large tires for mining and quarrying equipment, a sector that has seen strong growth worldwide as companies step up production of mineral resources, Bridgestone Corp. said.
The new plant will be constructed at a cost of 28.5 billion yen (US$241 million) in the city of Kitakyushu on the southwestern island of Kyushu.
It will be Bridgestone's first factory built in Japan since one that started operation in 1976.
Bridgestone vies with France's Michelin for the title of the world's top tiremaker. "The ultimate management goal of Bridgestone is to establish the company as the undisputed number one tire and rubber company both in name and reality," a Bridgestone statement said.
Construction of the new plant will begin in late 2007, with production expected to get underway in the second half of 2009. Bridgestone currently operates 51 plants in 23 countries.
Combined with increased production at a factory in the western city of Shimonoseki, Bridgestone anticipates a 40% increase in capacity for big tires for mining and construction equipment by late 2010.
Both Bridgestone and Michelin have been hit hard by a rise this year in the cost of rubber, which hit a nearly three-decade high in June but has since slipped. Bridgestone has continued to expand in selected areas. Earlier this month, it announced it would buy U.S-.based Bandag Inc. for more than one billion dollars so as to expand into retreading -- the process of reusing tires once their tread rubber wears off.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006