TOKYO-Never accuse Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. of not planning ahead. Yokohama, having spent more than $180 million on plant capacity in North America in the past five years, is considering the possibility of building its own truck and bus tire factory in North America and further expanding its Salem, Va., passenger car and light truck tire plant.
Even though its GTY Tire Co. manufacturing off-take and cooperation agreement with General Tire and Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. doesn't expire until the year 2000, Yokohama is ``considering whether to renew the contract or build our own plant,'' the firm wrote in its 1993 annual report.
Yokohama currently takes off more than 40 percent of GTY Tire's annual production of 900,000 units.
Yokohama, Toyo and General spent more than $200 million to build the GTY factory, breaking ground in 1988 and commissioning production in 1991.
Building a new truck/bus tire plant would require an investment of at least that much, only Yokohama would be bearing the entire cost.
Additionally, Yokohama has invested more than $100 million in the past five years in its Salem, Va., passenger and light truck tire plant to expand annual capacity to an estimated 7 million units by year's end 1994.
``That's good,'' the company notes in its annual report, ``but we need to do even better. Demand in the U.S. market is growing, and we would like to supply more of that demand. This will require a significant increase in our production capacity.''
The company did not elaborate on its manufacturing plans but did say it will be taking steps to ``fortify'' its position in North America.