Cooper opens Asia tech center

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(Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. photo) Cooper's Asia Technical Center will focus on designing and developing passenger and truck tires primarily for China and the Asia market.

KUNSHAN, China (June 17, 2014) — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. has opened a $23 million Asia Technical Center (ATC) at the site of its Cooper (Kunshan) Tire Co. Ltd. venture in Kunshan.

The 54,000-sq.-ft. facility will focus on designing and developing passenger and truck tires primarily for China and the Asia market, Cooper executives said at a June 12 dedication ceremony.

“The new Asia Technical Center is a key investment to support our growth in China and throughout Asia,” said Allen Tsaur, vice president and general manager of Cooper Tire Asia.

Cooper said construction of the center took about nine months. The tire maker spends about 1.5 percent of its annual revenue on R&D, according to its financial statements.

“Our two strategic focus areas for Asia are passenger/truck tire growth and continued expansion of our successful work within the original equipment (OE) market. Working with OEs such as Great Wall and BAIC ultimately translates to consumer demand for replacement tires,” he added, “and it is the best way to continue to grow our brand as we simultaneously expand distribution points to serve consumers throughout Asia.”

The ATC was relocated to Kunshan from Shanghai to a facility constructed specifically for Cooper’s research and development activities and staff of 65 material scientists and tire engineers, Cooper said.

The ATC is one of four technical centers Cooper operates; the others are in Melksham, England, and at Cooper’s headquarters in Findlay, Ohio.

Also attending the dedication ceremony were Chuck Yurkovich, vice president, global research and development; and Gavin Edwards, general manager of the ATC.

Mr. Yurkovich said the new facility reflects Cooper’s continued improvement over time to its technical capabilities, placing a strong emphasis on “speed to market and the launch of exceptional products.

“We develop ‘ready-to-use’ advanced technology that we call upon when needed to introduce new products around the world,” he said, “and we also pursue select innovative technology to achieve a competitive advantage through developing new and enhanced tire and materials technology.”

Mr. Edwards noted that locating the tech center on the grounds of the Kunshan plant offers many advantages, including speed.

“With a plant nearby, we have the opportunity to test and interact with the people and equipment that actually produces our tires,” he said. “It allows us to respond quickly to all of our customers, particularly OE vehicle manufacturers, which have high levels of technical demands, as we evolve to create and manufacture the best tires for drivers in China and throughout Asia.”

The Kunshan plant is the former Cooper Kenda Tire Manufacturing (Kunshan) Co. Ltd. joint venture with Taiwan’s Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd. that Cooper bought outright in 2011 for $116.5 million.

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