AKRON — Goodyear has disclosed plans to modernize its 62-year-old tire plant in Amiens, France, in order to accommodate production of larger-rim-diameter tires and enhance automation.
The project, for which Goodyear has budgeted $160 million, is one of several modernization and expansion projects the company expects to announce this year, according to comments made by company executives during the firm's first-quarter earnings conference call.
The Amiens project, which is subject to consultation with relevant employee representative bodies and regulatory approvals from the European Commission, will be carried out over five years.
The French government is supporting the project with $48.5 million in state aid through its Automotive Recovery Plan.
Employment at the Amiens plant stands at about 800 workers, and the plan would preserve employment for at least the next 10 years, including an "ambitious" skills development training program, Goodyear said.
The proposed project is designed to strengthen the competitiveness of the plant through a higher degree of digitalization, automation and equipment upgrades, Goodyear said, which should result in more sustainable and innovative production of premium, large-rim-diameter consumer tires, including those for electric and hybrid vehicles.
Goodyear said the project would result in the addition of capacity for higher-value-added tires of about 3 million units a year. Overall capacity of 5 million units would not change.
"The automotive industry is experiencing unprecedented changes, which are also transforming the tire industry," Pierre-Jean Eraud, president of Goodyear France, said.
"We have been working with the French authorities for more than a year on this modernization project, confirming Goodyear's commitment to promoting opportunities for our workforce and the competitiveness of the region."
During the earnings conference call, Darren Wells, executive vice president and chief financial officer, told financial analysts Goodyear has two more expansions on tap as well as "brownfield" modernizations for plants in the Americas. Details will be disclosed as the project parameters are firmed up.