OSAKA, Japan (Feb. 17, 2004) — Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. will build a tire plant in the U.S. in the coming two years, budgeting $150 million for a factory capable of making 2 million passenger and light truck tires a year.
Toyo said it is evaluating several sites “in the eastern half” of the U.S. for the plant, which would begin production by early 2006 with employment initially of 350. Media in the U.S. Southeast have identified one of the sites as Bartow County, Ga., near Atlanta, where a local industrial development group has pitched a “Japanese tire company” on a site there.
Toyo said its decision to produce in the U.S. is based on several factors, including the need to increase capacity anyway to meet “robust overseas demand” and a desire to hedge against currency fluctuation risk.
“Producing Toyo tires at a U.S.-based facility will more fully enable us to serve our customers in North America,” said Yoshio Kataoka, president and CEO of Toyo. “Our greatest demand is in the North American market.”
Toyo reported approximately $500 million in sales in North America last year—good for about a 2 to 3 percent share of the North American replacement market for passenger and light truck tires and closer to 4 percent in the medium truck tire markets.