TOKYO (Dec. 4, 2002) — Bridgestone/Firestone Europe S.A. is dropping Firestone from its name under a new business strategy in Europe. The plan is intended principally to raise the firm's share of the high-performance tire market in the region, parent group Bridgestone Corp. said.
The Brussels-based firm — to be known as Bridgestone Europe NV/SA from Jan. 1 — will benefit from an investment of about $400 million by year-end 2002. The money will go mostly to expanding production in Poland and Spain and research activities in Italy, Bridgestone said.
In Poland, Bridgestone will increase daily capacity at its plant in Poznan to 23,000 tires from 15,000. The company said in August it was planning to investing $60 million in the Polish site to raise its capacity to 15,000 units.
In Spain, Bridgestone said it would raise daily output of truck and bus tires at its Bilbao plant by 1,100 units to 4,600 units by year-end of 2005.
The group also will build a second proving ground in Rome as part of a plan to reinforce its European research-and-development activities. The new facility will include a Training and Communication Center for European staff, dealers and customers.
Additionally, Bridgestone said it will write down $300 million against the value of aging tire equipment at five of its six European manufacturing sites — Bethune, France; Bari, Italy; and Burgos, Bilbao and Peunte San Miguel, Spain.