INDIJA CITY, Serbia — Toyo Tire Corp. broke ground Dec. 15 on its $450 million tire plant in Indija City, with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić among the invited guests attending the ceremony.
The factory, Toyo's first in Europe and eighth worldwide, is scheduled to start production in April 2022 with a nameplate capacity of 5 million passenger and light commercial vehicle tires a year.
The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by about 40 distinguished guests, including Vladimir Gak, mayor of Indija City, and Takahiko Katsumata, Japan's ambassador to the Republic of Serbia.
Inđija is a municipality of about 47,000 inhabitants located 35 miles northwest of Belgrade in the autonomous province of Vojvodina, Serbia.
In remarks broadcast to the gathering, Toyo President and CEO Takashi Shimizu expressed his enthusiasm for Toyo Tire's first plant in Europe: "Many of the products produced at this plant will be designed and developed at our new R&D center in Germany. Our future goal is to produce tires created entirely in Europe."
Mr. Shimizu participated remotely from Japan due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his comments, Mr. Vučić said, "This is such an important and valuable investment for Serbia, that I cannot find the right words to describe it. I owe a special gratitude to all the people from Japan and our country who supported the arrival of such an important and powerful company in Serbia."
Mr. Vučić called Toyo's investment the largest yet in Serbia by a Japanese company and said the new plant is expected to employ 560 workers.
Toyo initially planned to break ground on the factory in May and start production by January 2022, according to the firm's site selection announcement in July 2019.
Toyo has established a subsidiary, Toyo Tire Serbia L.L.C., to oversee the project and business in Europe.
The new plant will be supported by a European research and development center in Willich, Germany, that opened last November. The 27,000-sq.-ft. center is intended to help Toyo build a strong technical foundation in Europe and support the firm's growth strategy in Europe, which represents about 15% of Toyo's global sales.