Findlay, Ohio — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is investing about $55 million (€47 million) at its tire manufacturing plant in Serbia to expand capacity and broaden the site's production portfolio by the end of the year.
The project also positions the facility in Kruševac for potential dramatic expansion in the future, Cooper Tire said in a 23 July statement.
Billed as "the most significant US investments" in Serbia, the work includes both equipment upgrade and site expansion, while adding 118 new jobs.
"Cooper Tire Serbia is substantially increasing tire production capacity at our Kruševac site, which is a key facility within Cooper's global manufacturing network," Cooper CEO Brad Hughes.
The project will enable the facility to manufacture light truck tires, including 4x4 tires, and large diameter tires up to 22 inches in addition to the passenger car and sport utility vehicle (SUV) tires it currently produces.
Cooper acquired the Serbian plant, previously operated by Trayal Corp., in early 2012 for about $17.4 million with plans to upgrade the facility.
The plant, about 125 miles south of Belgrade, is receiving approximately $8 million of incentives from the Serbian government to help with the project, the company said.
Upgrades at the facility, which are already under way, will allow for the production of "new, larger diameter tires being demanded in Europe and other global markets," Cooper said.
Production will increase by one-third when the project is complete later this year, Cooper said.
The work also is creating a footprint that would allow for the further doubling of capacity in the future with additional equipment and manpower, the company added.
The decision to expand the Serbian operations follows the transfer of passenger car tire production from the UK to the Kruševac site in 2019.
At the time, Cooper said it expected the benefits of a lower cost-footprint in Serbia would help it “turn a corner” after a difficult trading period.