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Bridgestone breaks ground in Russia

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(Bridgestone Corp. photo) Participants at the ground-breaking ceremony April 1 for Bridgestone's new passenger tire plant in Russia include an unidentified officer of Mitsubishi Corp. (second from left); Sergey Morozov, governor of Ulyanovsk Oblast (center); Kazuhisa Nishigai, COO of Bridgestone Corp. (second from right); and an official from the Embassy of Japan in Russia (right).

ULYANOVSK OBLAST, Russia (April 2, 2014) — Bridgestone Corp. has broken ground in Ulyanovsk Oblast on its planned $375 million passenger tire plant, which is scheduled to start production in the first half of 2016.

Production capacity at the plant is expected to reach roughly 12,000 units a day by the second half of 2018, Bridgestone said, producing radials primarily for markets in Russia and neighboring countries. A measurable portion of the output will be winter tires, the company said.

The Japanese tire maker held a ground-breaking ceremony April 1 at the 200-acre site in the Zavolzhye Industrial Zone in central Russia, roughly 560 miles southeast of Moscow. Bridgestone disclosed plans for the plant a year ago.

Among the invited guests was Sergey Morozov, governor of Ulyanovsk Oblast, along with dignitaries from federal and state government; industrial zone business residents; and representatives from Mitsubishi Corp., Bridgestone’s minority (10 percent) business partner in the venture.

Representing Bridgestone at the ceremony were Kazuhisa Nishigai, COO and representative board member, and Hiromi Tanigawa, president of Bridgestone Tire Manufacturing C.I.S. L.L.C.

“Bridgestone is building this new plant in order to meet the demand growth with local production and to contribute motorization in Russia with high-quality, safety-secured products,” Mr. Nishigai said.

Bridgestone said the new plant is designed to meet Russian demand growth in that country and neighboring nations with local production. A recent market study by TechSci Research forecast Russian market growth at about 13 percent annually through 2018.

Employment at the plant is expected to hit 800 by 2018, Bridgestone said.

The tire maker already has begun building a retail presence in Russia under the “Pole Position” banner. Mitsubishi also has a minority stake (20 percent) in Bridgestone C.I.S. L.L.C., a sales company established in Moscow by Bridgestone.

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