At a ceremony on October 5, corporate executives from Yokohama Tire Corporation and state and local officials celebrated the official opening of the Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi (YTMM) plant in West Point, Miss.
The 1-million-square-foot facility now manufactures commercial truck and bus tires for OEM, fleet and dealer customers in the North American market. When production ramp-up of phase 1 of the plant is complete by 2018, YTMM will manufacture approximately 3,000 tires per day (1 million annually). Yokohama says it has the potential to quadruple capacity with an additional three phases as tire demand rises.
Yokohama officials say stronger North American tire manufacturing capacity is critical to the company’s success in the market. “It is no longer sufficient to source tires from existing manufacturing plants around the world,” says Hikomitsu Noji, president and representative director of The Yokohama Rubber Co. “In short, supply will have to come from where our customers are and be able to provide specific products that the North American market demands.”
“The economy is steady, and that is creating a healthy environment for the trucking industry,” says Rick Philips, vice president of sales for Yokohama Tire Corp. “Class 8 trucks in service are expected to go from 3.5 million to 4 million in the next 10 years. All these trucks mean more tires on the ground. The fact that we will be producing tires locally will mean our speed to market will improve greatly – our lead time will go from a few months sourcing tires offshore to a few days sourcing here in Mississippi.”
While YTMM has the technological manufacturing capabilities to produce almost any tire in Yokohama’s product lineup, company officials say the plant will focus on supplying core commercial tire products and sizes, including steer, drive and trailer tires from 17.5” to 24.5” rim sizes.
Phillips says YTMM will be able to service both the OEM and replacement markets with product manufactured in Mississippi, adding that its GTY Tire Co. joint venture with Continental Tires the Americas as YTMM production continues to increase
“Based on our extensive research of the commercial tire market in North America, this was the right time to build a new plant and Mississippi was absolutely was the right place to build it, says Takaharu Fushimi, CEO of Yokohama Corporation of North America and Yokohama Tire Corp. West Point was selected after an exhaustive yearlong search in 2012 that included site locations in 3,000 counties across the United States.
“What this modern plant will mean for our customers is they will get what they want, when they want, and our products will no longer have to travel both land and sea to get to them,” Fushimi says.