TOKYO—Bridgestone Corp. has two more major projects slated for China, one a new synthetic rubber plant and the other a new technical center.
The firm will spend $100 million through early 2008 to build an SBR facility in Huizhou, China, primarily to serve its own tire plants in China and Asia. In addition, it will build a $14 million technical center in Wuxi, China, to support its growing production and sales base in the country.
Bridgestone has established Bridgestone (Huizhou) Synthetic Rubber Co. Ltd. to operate the SR plant, which should come on stream in the first half of 2008 with annual production capacity of 50,000 metric tons. Bridgestone will use technology from Japan´s JSR Corp.
Bridgestone, which already makes synthetic rubber at two plants in the U.S., said the decision to build a synthetic rubber plant for China and Asia is in line with an expected surge in demand in those areas and with its plan to expand in-house supply of strategic raw materials.
The project was announced following approval from Huizhou city officials, Bridgestone said. The plant will be built in Huizhou´s Dayawan Economic and Technological Development Zone in Guangdong Province.
This project is in addition to more than $360 million Bridgestone has committed through 2007 to enhance its raw materials supply. Included in that are the recent purchases of Goodyear´s natural rubber plantation in Indonesia, a new carbon black plant in Thailand, two steel cord factories in China, and expansions of steel cord capacity in Japan and the U.S.
The new research and development center, to be operational by July, will be Bridgestone´s fourth worldwide, joining R&D centers in Tokyo, Akron and Rome.
One of the new technical center´s primary responsibilities will be to evaluate the quality and applicability of raw materials being supplied to the group´s tire plants in China, Bridgestone said, especially those coming from Chinese suppliers. The center will support Bridgestone´s objective of creating a consistent system from development to production and sales to enable quick response to the diverse needs in the Chinese market.
The center—Bridgestone (China) Research & Development Co. Ltd.—will be built next to Bridgestone´s passenger tire plant in Wuxi, with about 20 employees at startup.
Bridgestone also is building a tire proving ground in China, in Yixing, Jiangsu Province, at a cost of about $25 million over the next two years.
Bridgestone´s production base in China includes passenger tire factories in Tianjin and Wuxi, a truck/bus tire facility and a steel cord plant in Shenyang and another truck/bus tire factory under construction in Huizhou.