BRUSSELS, Belgium—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.
The operation will be the firm´s first use of the BIRD—Bridgestone Innovative and Rational Development—manufacturing system in Europe. Bridgestone already uses it at a site in Japan and is building a plant in Mexico based on the system.
This is Bridgestone´s fourth new plant announcement in six months, and the third involving BIRD. Together these projects represent 29,000 units of daily capacity and $923 million in investments over three years. Three major expansions add another $467 million to the total.
The other new projects are:
* a $300 million, 5,000 unit/day radial truck and bus tire plant in Huizhou, China, due on stream in 2007;
* a $220 million, 8,000 unit/day BIRD-based passenger/light truck tire factory in Monterrey, Mexico, due on stream by July 2007; and
* a $160 million, 8,000 unit/day passenger/light truck tire operation in Camacari, Brazil, due on stream in late 2006.
The expansions/modernizations include:
* $100 million to modernize the Santo Andre, Brazil, passenger, truck/bus, agricultural and off-road tire facility;
* $130 million to double annual capacity of small radial earthmover tires at its Hofu, Japan, plant by mid-2006; and
* $237 million over two to two-and-a-half years to install the BIRD system at its Hikone, Japan, tire site, where production of car tires using the system should reach 12,000 units daily by early 2007.