AKRON (Aug. 31, 2009)—Despite the global economic slowdown that started last fall, the tire industry opened 12 greenfield tire plants in the past 12 months, representing more than $1.5 billion in investments and about 15 million units of new annual capacity. Half of the dozen new plants are in China.
In addition, there are at least six more new plants under construction and slated to start production in 2010 or early 2011.
The worldwide economic malaise has affected the industry, though, in the form of plant closings—at least five in the past 12 months and eight more on tap—and project cancellations or delays.
Bridgestone Corp. was particularly active in new capacities in the past year, opening tire plants in Japan and Poland, steel cord and synthetic rubber plants in China and a carbon black plant in Mexico.
Europe has been particulary hard hit by the closings, with Group Michelin, Continental A.G., Pirelli Tyre S.p.A. and Goodyear all announcing capacity adjustments that will result in plant closures or manufacturing phaseouts.
Plant openings in the past 12 months were:
* Alliance Tire (1992) Ltd.—radial farm tire plant in Tirunelveli, India; $100 million investment; 50,000 metric tons a year at full capacity.
* Apollo Tyres Ltd.—radial passenger, light and medium truck tire plant in Tamil Nadu, India; $112 million investment; 250 metric tons a day at full capacity.
* Bridgestone Corp.—OTR tire plant in Shimonoseki, Japan; $265 million investment; 80 metric tons a day at full capacity.
—Radial truck/bus tire plant in Stargard Scezecinski, Poland; $270 million investment; 5,000 units a day and 550 employees at full capacity.
* Eurotire Inc.—radial OTR tire plant in Drobeta, Romania; $300 million investment; 25,000 units per year of capacity.
* GITI Tire—radial tire plant in Hefei, China; part of a $300 million investment package; 10 million units a year at full capacity.
* Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd.—two-wheel tire plant in Tianjin, China; $23 million investment.
* Kumho Tire Co. Inc.—radial truck/bus tire plant in Nanjing, China; $90 million investment; 300,000 units a year at full capacity.
* Sentaida Group/Cenchelyn Tire Co. Ltd.—Qingdao, China; 6 million passenger tires a year.
* Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd.—radial truck/bus tire plant in Suzhou City/Jiangsu, China; $90 million investment; 340,000 units a year at full capacity. (Start-up was delayed a year.)
Plants closed or slated for closing are:
* Bridgestone—Mexico City; bias-ply light and medium truck tires; closed mid-2008.
—LaVergne, Tenn.; production of car and light truck tires (about 10,000 units a day) being phased out, with medium truck tire production to continue.
* Carlisle Tire & Wheel—Carlisle, Pa.; production of industrial tires to be phased out over 12 to 15 months and moved to a facility being acquired in Jackson, Tenn.
* Continental A.G.—Hanover, Germany; production of radial truck tires to be suspended indefinitely.
—Clairoix, France; plant to close by first quarter of 2010; capacity of 8 million passenger tires a year; 1,120 employees.
* Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.—Albany, Ga.; plant to be closed by year-end; nameplate capacity of 22,700 passenger and light truck tires daily.
* Dunlop Nigeria Ltd.—Lagos, Nigeria; production of passenger, light and medium truck and farm tires phased out.
* General Tyre East Africa—Arusha, Tanzania; production idled for more than a year; new investors being sought.
* Goodyear—Somerton, Australia; production of passenger and light truck tires (4,200 units daily) ended December 2008; affected 600 employees.
—Amiens, France; production of passenger tires (15,000-plus units a day) to be phased out by late 2010; about 800 employees affected; farm tire production to continue.
—Las Pinas, Philippines; to close by end of the third quarter, cutting 2 million units of annual capacity and eliminating about 500 jobs.
* Michelin—Turin/Stura, Italy; production of radial passenger tires (24,000 units a day) to be phased out by year-end.
—Opelika, Ala.; plant to shut by Oct. 31; cuts 8,000 units of daily capacity for passenger tires, eliminating 1,000 jobs.
* Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.—Manresa, Spain; phasing out radial passenger tires (19,500 units a day) by year-end, affecting 360 jobs.
* Trelleborg Wheel Systems Inc.—Hartville, Ohio; production of industrial tires phased out and moved to plant in Sri Lanka.