ERJ staff report (TP)
Rayong, Thailand − Yokohama Rubber plans to double production capacity at its plant in Rayong in a bid to make Thailand its export base for Asean, reported The Bangkok Post.
The company will double production of truck and bus tires to 2,080 tires a day next year.
The plant makes about 12,200 passenger car tires a year, with plans for 26,000 tires annually in five or six years, said Punnaphop Boriboon, senior manager for distribution at Yokohama Tire Manufacturing (Thailand).
Founded in 2004, the 5.9-bn-baht (€135.9m) plant at Amata City Industrial Estate can make 370 types of tires and employs 1,960 workers.
Apart from Thailand, Yokohama has plants in the Philippines (making 50,000 passenger car tires a day) and Vietnam (for motorcycle tires).
According to Punnaphop, the Rayong plant uses 10,000 tonnes of natural rubber to make 5m tires a year, with an additional 5,000 tonnes now needed after expansion of truck and bus tire production.
Exports of passenger car and light truck tires to North America, which accounted for 60 percent of sales in 2012, have dipped this year because of the sluggish economy there.
The company estimates the share of that market falling to 7 percent this year as sales in Thailand rise to 42 percent, up from just 10 percent last year. Shipments to Europe are projected at 9 percent, with 26 percent bound for other Asean markets and Australia.
Yokohama says it has a 20 percent share of Thailand's original equipment market and 5 percent of the replacement market. Major customers are Toyota, Nissan and Honda.
The company recently finished the third phase of its 1-bn-baht (€23m) testing centre in Rayong. Built in 2009 and now spanning 4.1 km of track, the testing centre is Yokohama's second and can handle more than 7,000 tires a year.
The company also plans to set up a research and development facility in Thailand in 2015, focusing on mechanics, chemistry and polymers.
Yokohama is thought to be behind Bridgestone, Michelin, Goodyear and Dunlop for tire output in Thailand.
The Industrial Economics Office reports Thailand makes 50m tires a year, with exports valued at $3.45bn (€2.54bn) in 2012. Thailand has less than a 4 percent share of global exports.
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Full story from The Bangkok Post