Tokyo – Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. is to start up a tire research & development centre in North Carolina, with activities scheduled to start this September, the Japanese company announced 31 Aug.
Described as Yokohama’s largest overseas R&D facility, the centre will initially cover research in the greater Charlotte area in the US.
In the long-run, however, Yokohama aims to consolidate the majority of its R&D activities in North America and Japan at the centre.
The new centre will work on the design of new tires for passenger cars and other consumer applications in the first phase. However, said Yokohama, it will gradually expand its activities to include testing & evaluation, design of tires for industrial and construction machinery, technical services and quality assurance.
With the consolidation, Yokohama expects to double the current size of its North American R&D staff. The tire-maker did not give details of the size of investment or the number of employees at the plant.
The Japanese tire-maker has selected North Carolina due to availability of high-skilled People as well as proximity to a hub airport.
As part of its Grand Design 100 (GD 100) medium term management plan, Yokohama is placing more importance on the North American market, with the consolidation of R&D to be a key part of the strategy.
The company’s North American operations currently include the sale of tires for passenger cars, trucks and buses, and industrial and construction machinery. The company has manufacturing facilities in Salem, Virginia and West Point, Mississippi and its corporate headquarters in Santa Ana, California.