BRUSSELS, Belgium (May 9)—Bridgestone Corp. has picked a site near Budapest, Hungary, for its newest tire plant, a $243 million facility for high-performance passenger and light truck tires based on its proprietary automated "BIRD" production system.
The factory, to be built about 35 miles east of Budapest near Tatabanya, will be designed with an initial daily capacity of 8,000 units, Bridgestone said. It is scheduled to come on stream in 2008; construction is not scheduled to start until 2006.
The plant will be dedicated primarily to making high-performance and larger rim size tires, demand for which is growing in Europe, Bridgestone said. In addition, European consumers have particularly critical demands for safety and environment—due in large part to the availability of high-speed driving on the German autobahn highway network—as well as their awareness of design.
The operation will be Bridgestone's first use of the BIRD—Bridgestone Innovative and Rational Development—manufacturing system in Europe. Bridgestone uses it already at one site in Japan and is building a facility in Mexico based on the BIRD system.
This is Bridgestone's fourth new plant announcement in six months, and the third project involving BIRD. Together these projects combined represent $1.02 billion in investments over three years. Two major expansions add another $267 million to the total.