TOKYO - Bridgestone Corp. has two major projects slated for China.
The company will spend $100 million through early 2008 to build the rubber plant in Huizhou, China, primarily to serve its tire plants in China and Asia. Bridgestone also will build a $14 million technical center in Wuxi, China, to support its growing production and sales base in the country.
Bridgestone has established Bridgestone (Huizhou) Synthetic Rubber Co. Ltd. to operate the rubber plant, which should be operational in the first half of 2008.
Bridgestone, which already makes synthetic rubber at two U.S. plants, said the decision to build the plant for China and Asia is in line with an expected surge in demand in those areas and with its plan to expand in-house supply of strategic raw materials.
The project was announced following approval from Huizhou city officials, Bridgestone said.
The plant will be built in Huizhou's Dayawan Economic and Technological Development Zone in Guangdong Province.
This project is in addition to more than $360 million Bridgestone has committed through 2007 to enhance its raw materials supply. Included in that are the recent purchases of Goodyear's natural rubber plantation in Indonesia, a new carbon black plant in Thailand, two steel cord factories in China, and expansions of steel cord capacity in Japan and the United States.
The new research and development center, to be operational by July, will be Bridgestone's fourth worldwide. It will join r&d centers in Tokyo, Rome and Akron, Ohio.
One of the technical center's primary responsibilities will be to evaluate the quality and applicability of raw materials being supplied to the group's tire plants in China, Bridgestone said, especially those coming from Chinese suppliers.
The center will be built next to Bridgestone's passenger-tire plant in Wuxi, with about 20 employees at startup.
Bridgestone also is building a tire proving ground in China, in Yixing, Jiangsu Province, at a cost of about $25 million over the next two years.