ZHANGJIAGANG, China (Dec. 9, 2011)—Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. has inaugurated production at its Zhangjiagang car and light truck tire plant, 15 months after breaking ground on the $105 million project.
The company inaugurated production at a ceremony this week hosted by Toyo Tire President Kenji Nakakura and attended by 350 Toyo employees, local officials, Toyo customers and other industry leaders, Toyo said.
The factory, known as Toyo Tire (Zhangjiagang) Co. Ltd., uses elements of Toyo's proprietary A.T.O.M production methods and is designed to produce up to 2 million tires a year, predominantly high-performance models, Toyo said.
Toyo said the new plant will help it meet demand for passenger and light truck tires in China, sales of which are forecasted to double by 2015.
The company expects the Zhangiagang plant to use about 30-percent less energy than comparable factories in Japan because of its use of state-of-the-art technology in tire manufacturing and measures to save energy and eliminate redundancy.
Employing elements of the A.T.O.M. production method leads to shorter lead times and fewer manufacturing stages, Toyo said, raising efficiency and productivity.
The tire maker did not disclose the number of workers at the plant.
Toyo also operates a truck and bus tire plant in Zhucheng that it acquired in July from Malaysia's Lion Rubber Industries Sdn. Bhd.
The Zhangjiagang factory is part of Toyo's strategy to have production capacity in place for 45 million tires annually by 2015.