TOKYO (June 17, 2009)—Bridgestone Corp. inaugurated production recently of giant OTR tires at its newest plant, in Kitakyushu, Japan, three months ahead of schedule.
Bridgestone broke ground on the $265 million plant, its first new plant in Japan since the mid-1970s, in the second half of 2007.
Bridgestone said it accelerated the plant's commissioning because of market conditions—demand for these large and ultralarge OTR tires continued to grow even as the overall economy slumped.
The plant is designed to process 80 metric tons of rubber a day—60 percent larger than originally planned—with 329 employees, although Bridgestone said these targets won't be achieved until the second half of 2012.
Bridgestone considers giant OTR tires to be “strategic products” and expects demand for them to continue growing.
The new plant is one of three factories dedicated to OTR tires. The others are in Shimonoseki, Japan, and Bloomington, Ill. Bridgestone also maintains some OTR capacity at plants in Puente San Miguel, Spain; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Sao Paulo, Brazil.