OSAKA, Japan-Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd., the world's eighth-largest tire maker, is looking to expand its tire manufacturing presence outside of Japan. The company, which derives about 21 percent of its sales from business outside of Japan, plans to ``promote local production of economy-class tires'' in overseas markets, and lists ``reinforcing overseas production bases'' as a priority for the coming years, according to its 1995 annual report.
Toyo, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, declined to elaborate on the statements, attributed to Toyo President Shozo Katayama. But press reports earlier this year indicated the company was interested in an Asian production site, and agents of the company have been evaluating European manufacturers for possible cooperation.
Toyo currently manufactures tires at only one site outside of Japan, at the GTY Tire Co. truck tire joint venture in the U.S., from which it is entitled to receive up to 140,000 units annually.
Toyo exports 2.1 million passenger car tires to North America and 2.3 million to Europe annually, according to the annual report.
Toyo's plan follows a route similar to that taken by fellow Japanese tire makers Sumitomo Rubber Industies Ltd. and Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. Sumitomo recently revealed plans to establish production in Indonesia, and Yokohama is looking at new capacity in North America
Michelin to fully fund U.G. pension
WASHINGTON-Michelin North America reached agreement with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. Nov. 7 to add $380 million to the eight pension plans administered by its Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co. subsidiary.
Besides alleviating the fears of 28,000 workers and retirees over their pension benefits, the payment excuses Michelin North America and its parent, Groupe Michelin, from some of the financial reporting requirements of the Retirement Protection Act passed last December.
After adding the $380 million to UGTC pension funds, Michelin will merge those funds with its own pension plan by year-end.
The U.G. Tire pension fund was a perennial on the PBGC's annual list of the 50 most underfunded pension plans in the U.S., placing sixth on the most recent list-which also included Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. at No. 9 and Goodyear at No. 39.
``The main thing (fully funding the pension plan) says to me is that they're in a fairly strong financial position to do this,'' said Harry Millis of Fundamental Research Inc. in Cleveland. ``They obviously felt confident about it. It looks like a positive step for the workers and the company. . . .''
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. has purchased a 38-acre site in Mount Sterling, Ky., to construct a 178,900-sq.-ft. plant to make rubber hose and body seals, primarily for the original equipment automotive market. The project is slated to cost $20 million and begin operation in 1997.
Goodyear will invest $5 million at its Asheville, N.C., steel tire cord plant to expand cord capacity for truck and earthmover tires and produce cords for passenger and light truck tires for the first time.
The company also purchased air springs maker HighTech in Maua, Brazil, for $4 million Sept. 1.