Cornelius, North Carolina — Yokohama Tire Corp. has opened a US tire research and development facility in Cornelius, where it will consolidate dozens of R&D staff from other facilities around the country, including the temporary R&D office it opened in Concord, North Carolina, in 2016.
The 25,000-sq.-ft. Cornelius facility, dubbed Yokohama Development Center America (YDCA), is Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd.'s largest overseas R&D centre in both function and number of employees, YTC said without disclosing the number of employees the facility will house nor its investment in the building.
"Consolidating our R&D activities will strengthen our R&D structure and further accelerate our ability to deliver new products that meet the demands of the market," Tetsuya Kuze, executive vice president of Yokohama Corp. of North America, said.
"We are committed to developing new products for this market across multiple segments."
Kuze described Cornelius — a town of 25,000 about 20 miles north of Charlotte and 20 miles west of Concord — as a "great fit" for Yokohama and said the proximity to the Charlotte airport and skilled workforce "is going to make this facility very successful."
Yokohama opened the Concord R&D centre in 2016, saying at that time it intended to consolidate separate R&D staffs operating at a number of locations throughout the US There was no indication then it was only a temporary move.
The Lake Norman Economic Development agency disclosed in April that Yokohama intended to move the R&D assets to Cornelius, but YTC declined to comment on the agency's report at that time.
The new centre will be led by Shoichiro (Sho) Matsuda, YCNA vice president of corporate technical.
"Our primary focus here will be tire development," Matsuda said. "We will also support other technical groups such as quality assurance and technical services."
Thomas Kenny, director of consumer tire development, Dan Steltmann, director of commercial tire development, and Jeremy Kahrs, director of technical service, will all be based at the new centre.
YTC President and CEO Shinichi Takimoto called the opening of YDCA "another major milestone for Yokohama in the US" and said it reflects the company's heritage of quality, technology and innovation.