A WSJ.COM News Roundup
BANGKOK, Thailand -- Bridgestone Corp. will invest about $194.5
million in Thailand to set up a production base that will make truck tires
for export to the U.S. and Europe, the Thai Board of Investment said
Staporn Kavitanon, the board's secretary-general, said the board has
approved the project and offered tax privileges for the beleaguered
Japanese tire maker's investment.
Bridgestone has been fighting to save its Firestone brand, especially in
the U.S., following the company's massive tire recall in August.
The new plant, to be established in the southeastern province of
Chonburi, will create 1,000 jobs. Mr. Staporn said the plant, which will
be run by Bridgestone Thai unit Bridgestone Manufacturing (Thailand)
Ltd., will produce radial tires for big trucks and export 90% of its
output to the U.S. and European markets.
Bridgestone currently has two tire plants in Thailand under another unit,
Thai Bridgestone Ltd., with total production capacity of six million tires a
Currently, there are 20 tire producers in Thailand, with a combined
annual capacity of 16 million units. Siam Tire, Thai Bridgestone and a
Thai unit of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. are the major producers of a
combined 12 million tires a year.
Major export markets for tires include the U.S., Italy, Japan, Hong Kong
and Taiwan. The value of Thai tire exports reached 11.97 billion baht in
In August, Bridgestone's U.S. unit, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., recalled
6.5 million ATX, ATXII and Wilderness AT tires after reports of tread
separation. The failures of those tires are allegedly linked to 119 deaths
in the U.S. and more than 40 overseas, involving accidents mainly on
Ford Motor Co.'s Explorer sports-utility vehicle.
Earlier this week, Bridgestone President Yoichiro Kaizaki said retail sales
of Firestone-brand tires plunged 40% in the U.S. in September and
October. Following the announcement, the company raised its estimate
of the cost of the recall by $100 million. It now expects the recall to
cost $450 million.