TOKYO (Feb. 8) — Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. will expand capacity for off-the-road tires for construction, mining and other heavy equipment over the next three years by nearly 50 percent at its Onomichi, Japan.
The project, valued at $4.2 million, will involve building a new factory adjacent to the firm´s 32-year-old Onomichi plant, Yokohama said. Production will focus on 25-, 33- and 35-inch radial OTR tires, which make up the lion´s share of the market for medium-sized general-purpose construction and mining tires.
Groundbreaking is set for this month with initial production expected by November; monthly capacity will grow incrementally through 2009 to 1,620 metric tons from 1,100 tons. Yokohama did not say what effect the expansion will have on employment.
The expansion is in response to what Yokohama called "surging, structural growth in global demand" for such tires, particularly from the mining sector, which is experiencing "burgeoning demand" for natural resources, especially in newly emerging economies.
Demand outside Japan accounts for about 80 percent of Yokohama´s business in OTR tires.
The tires targeted primarily are for dump trucks with capacities of 30 metric tons to 75 metric tons, which are used to extract resources in mines and to handle the ore at ports.
Production of bias OTR tires will continue at Onomichi, even as the company expands production of radials. Demand remains strong for bias tires for small and medium-sized vehicles in underground mining operations, in freight-handling equipment at ports, and in other applications, Yokohama said.