Group Michelin has budgeted more than $180 million for expansion projects at plants in Northern Ireland, Brazil and Hungary and has selected a site in India for a $70 million tire plant to be built in partnership with Apollo Tyres Ltd.
In Northern Ireland, Michelin will spend $26.5 million to upgrade its truck and bus tire plant in Ballymena by introducing new technology designed to enhance the ``capability, productivity and efficiency'' of the plant, rated at 950,000 units annually. Invest Northern Ireland (INI), a government agency, will contribute nearly $5 million in assistance.
Neither Michelin nor INI said how much of a capacity hike the project entails or if it represents new jobs.
In Brazil, Soc. Michelin Ltda. has budgeted $74 million to boost truck tire output 40 percent at its 23-year-old Campo Grande plant to 1.6 million units a year. The company also will spend $24 million to boost steel cord capacity at Itatiaia, which also is the site of a car tire plant equipped with Michelin's C3M automated production system.
The expansions are intended to make Michelin do Brasil more self-sufficient, cutting down on the need to import and eventually to give the unit sufficient capacity to support exporting as well.
Together, the two Brazil projects will create about 500 new jobs over their two-year duration, Michelin said.
In Hungary, Michelin will spend $59 million to add capacity for passenger tires at its agricultural tire plant in Nyiregyhaza. The plant, originally built by Hungary's Taurus Rubber Co. Ltd. in 1979, will be converted to accommodate equipment for 2,500 passenger tires a day, Michelin said. The added capacity will create 200-300 jobs when it comes on-stream in June 2005, the Hungarian Ministry for Economic Affairs and Transport said.
In India, Michelin and Apollo Tyres have chosen a site in Maharashtra state for a truck and bus tire plant to be built and operated by their Michelin Apollo Tyres Pvt. Ltd. joint venture.
The partners also launched a 20-inch radial truck tire that carries both the Michelin and Apollo trademarks on the sidewall, reflecting the ``strong contribution of each partner'' to the joint venture.
Initially, the new tire line will be imported into India until the venture's $70 million plant in Ranjangaon comes on-stream in 2005, Michelin said. The tires reportedly will come from Michelin's plant in China, according to Indian sources. The plant will have a capacity of 300,000 to 350,000 tires per year at full capacity, which should be achieved by 2007, a Michelin spokeswoman said. Expected employment was not disclosed.
Michelin and Apollo agreed to set up the 51/49 venture last November. To create the venture, Michelin agreed to buy a 14.9-percent stake in Apollo for $28 million and to provide technical support for the manufacture of Apollo passenger car radials.
In addition, Michelin began commercial production on July 7 at its new plant in Davydovo, Russia. The factory, located near Moscow, will make 2.1 million auto tires in 2005, eventually rising to 6.5 million by 2015 at the latest but possibly much earlier, a Michelin spokesman said.