FRANKLIN, Ky. (Sept. 18)—Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. held a grand opening ceremony for its first U.S. plant Sept. 16 after beginning production of anti-vibration components there in July for an undisclosed 2003 model year vehicle. Production at the facility with about 15 salaried and 40 hourly employees began only a month after Toyo ended its AVS joint venture with Trelleborg Automotive Americas, citing lack of continuity in ownership and subsequent changes in business strategy. With its U.S. factory now in production, Toyo plans to move beyond its traditional supply relationships with Japanese transplant auto makers, the company said in a written statement. To that end, Toyo has set up a sales and technical presence in Detroit. The company's ultimate goal is "to be a frontrunner creating the world's No. 1 vibration-control products," Toyo said. "Guided by this concept, Toyo is focused on attaining and developing core competencies in this business area."