Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. has established a tire research and development center in North Carolina, with R&D activities scheduled to start this September -- initially in the greater Charlotte area.

When completed, it will become the company’s largest overseas R&D center in terms of both functions and number of employees.

The company presently conducts R&D on tires for the North American market in several U.S. states and in Japan, but looks to consolidate the majority of these R&D activities at the new center soon.

The consolidation of R&D activities will strengthen the company’s R&D framework and further accelerate its "ability to deliver new tire products that meet market needs in a timely manner," said Yokohama.

The company also plans to double the current size of its North American R&D staff. Yokohama Rubber will consider additional investment in its facilities "in line with the expansion of the breadth" of its activities.

The new center initially will design consumer tires, but gradually will expand its activities to include:

* testing and evaluation;

* design of tires for industrial and construction machinery;

* technical services; and

* quality assurance.

The North Carolina location was selected on the basis of its ability to attract high-quality staff and its close proximity to a hub airport, added Yokohama.

Yokohama Tire Corp., a subsidiary of Yokohama Rubber, sells passenger, truck and bus, and industrial and construction machinery tires in North America, supported by tire manufacturing facilities in Salem, Va., and West Point, Miss. During Phase IV (2015–2017) of its Grand Design 100 (GD100) medium-term management plan, Yokohama Rubber said it "is placing even greater importance on the huge North American market and plans to strengthen local sales of original equipment tires and replacement tires."

Consolidation of its R&D function in North America is an important part of that management strategy.

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