OSAKA, Japan (May 18) — Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. will go ahead with a planned expansion of capacity at its passenger and light truck tire plant in Bartow, Ga., investing $50 million to boost annual output there 65 percent by 2009.
The 600,000-sq.-ft. plant started production in June 2004 with a nameplate capacity of 2 million units a year of 16- to 24-inch high-performance tires. The expansion will boost that to 3.3 million units annually.
Toyo said it decided to proceed with the expansion at this time to meet anticipated future demand from North American-based auto makers for original equipment tires.
Toyo will carry out the expansion by upgrading the plant´s automated Advance Tire Operation Module (ATOM) system. The proprietary ATOM system is designed to allow production of multiple sizes and types in small lots within a smaller space than that needed for conventional manufacturing.
The Bartow plant is operated by Toyo Tire North America Inc. Toyo did not comment on the expansion´s impact on employment, which now stands at 350.