SHANGHAI (April 17) — Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. will build a plant in China for radial truck and bus tires, with production to start in October 2007.
Yokohama said it has budgeted $81 million for the plant, which will have annual capacity initially of 350,000 tires; capacity will be expanded further in the future in line with demand.
The plant will be built in Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province, where Yokohama has set up a wholly owned subsidiary, Suzhou Yokohama Tire Co. Ltd., to oversee the project. Yokohama disclosed the project at ceremonies marking the official start of business of its Yokohama Rubber (China) Co. Ltd. subsidiary, a Shanghai-based entity set up last year to control Yokohama´s overall activities in China.
Yokohama said it will use small-scale processing methods, which reduce the tire manufacturing time and require "relatively smaller" amounts of investment. The plant will also use a new rubber mixing method — dubbed "Low Temperature and High Torque Mixing" — that Yokohama claims yields "massive" improvements in tire durability and wear resistance.
Yokohama said it will target primarily the markets for high-performance trucks and buses in order to preserve the brand´s high-quality image. Up to now, the firm has supplied the Chinese market with tires built in Japan.
Regarding future expansions, Yokohama said it had purchased a plot of land four times larger than it needs initially.
The new facility will be Yokohama´s fourth radial truck/bus tire plant and its second tire factory in China.