TOKYO (Dec. 5, 2003) — Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. plans to build a steel radial truck and bus tire plant in Thailand at a cost of nearly $50 million over 16 months.
The new plant, to be operational by April 2005, will have an initial annual capacity of 315,000 units, but this will be doubled by 2007 in a second-phase project, Yokohama said, without disclosing the investment projection for the expansion.
A new company, tentatively named Yokohama Tire Manufacturing (Thailand) Co., will operate the plant, to be built in southern Bangkok. Yokohama will own 95 percent of the new company, with the firm's local importer and distributor owning the remaining 5 percent.
The plant will supplement Yokohama's existing truck tire capacity, at Mie, Japan, and at the jointly owned GTY Tire Co. in Mount Vernon, Ill. The plant's output is destined primarily for Asian, Middle Eastern and European markets, the company said.
Yokohama will become the fourth major international tire maker to establish manufacturing in Thailand, following Bridgestone Corp., Goodyear and Group Michelin. Bridgestone has a truck tire plant under construction, its third in the country, due for production start-up by late 2004.
In addition, Taiwan's Cheng Shin/Maxxis International has a passenger and light truck tire plant under construction near Bangkok, and there are at least half a dozen locally owned tire makers competing as well, including Deestone Ltd., Hihero Co. Ltd., Otani Tire Co. Ltd., Roadstone Tyre & Rubber Co. Ltd., Siamese Tyre Co. Ltd. and Vee Tyre & Rubber Co. Ltd.