The factory, plans for which were announced in mid-2014, is scheduled to produce up to 200,000 Dextero-branded passenger tires for Wal-Mart this year, company officials said.
Production should ramp up to several million passenger and light truck tires in 2018, then to the plant's first-phase nameplate capacity of 5 million tires.
The factory's physical layout can accommodate a doubling of that capacity to 10 million tires "as demand warrants," according to Hank Eisenga, vice president, manufacturing and plant manager.
In his prepared remarks for the event, Giti Tire Group Chairman Enki Tan said his firm's investment in the plant "demonstrates our firm commitment to North American customers."
He lauded the "extensive infrastructure network" in Chester County, S.C., and a commitment to a highly skilled workforce for help to create a world-scale plant in rural South Carolina.
'America at Work'
Mr. Foran and a team of Wal-Mart executives headlined the event, which in part commemorated the retailing giant's "America at Work" initiative to solidify its relationship with U.S. suppliers and supply of U.S.-sourced goods.
In his remarks at the event, Mr. McMaster called the ingenuity, innovation, strength and determination exemplified by the Giti-Wal-Mart collaboration "off the scale."
Dr. Tan noted that Giti is the largest Wal-Mart supplier to date to have partnered with the Arkansas retailer in its America at Work initiative. He said his company's project in South Carolina thus far has involved more than 5,000 workers and will generate an estimated $1.2 billion in economic impact in the state.
State, regional and local governments committed more than $40 million in economic incentives toward the project in Chester County, about 40 miles south of Charlotte, N.C.
Wal-Mart has sold Dextero-brand tires at its Walmart auto care centers in the U.S. since 2012. Giti plans to shift that supply steadily to the Richburg plant from the Indonesian plant of its P.T. Gajah Tunggal affiliate, starting with the DHT2 and Touring DRT1 passenger lines.
"By investing in products that support American jobs, we were able to bring products to our shelves that our customers want and new jobs to the communities we serve," Mr. Foran said. A Boston Consulting survey estimated the Wal-Mart initiative will create 1 million new jobs in the U.S.