Akron, Ohio – Bridgestone Americas Inc. plans to build a dedicated racing tire plant in Akron near its technical centre, company officials have announced.
The facility will replace an existing race-tire unit in the original Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. Plant One building, said Cara Adams, chief engineer at Bridgestone Americas Motorsports.
The decision coincides with Bridgestone extending its Firestone tire-supply contract with IndyCar Series for six seasons, through 2025, Adams noted at a 6 Feb news conference in Akron.
The facility will be built adjacent to an existing tire-testing facility, near to the company's seven-year-old ‘Americas technical center’ in south Akron.
Production could start as early as late 2020, Adams said, but the entire project will take about four years to complete.
Bridgestone did not disclose investment details but said the new plant would accommodate the 50 workers employed now in race tire manufacturing.
Employment there could grow along with increased prototype tire production, the tire maker added.
The existing race tire unit occupies 100,000 square feet at the old Firestone factory.
Bridgestone had extended its lease with the city of Akron on the manufacturing space at the former Firestone headquarters in late 2016 for two more years.
Akron had acquired the building in 2012 after Bridgestone had moved its R&D unit to a purpose-built facility a mile south.
The new plan involves a contract extension with the city of Akron to keep the race tire unit operating in the old Firestone headquarters building.
The city at one time had planned to raze the structure, but city and county officials now say they are evaluating different options for the 750,000-sq.-ft., five-story structure.
The decision to keep race tire production in Akron reflects the company's heritage in the city, said Nizar Trigui, Bridgestone Americas chief technology officer.
"The Akron community and race tire development have each played significant roles in our company's past, and they will continue to drive innovation for us in the future" he said.
European Rubber Journal has edited this Tire Business report.