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Sumitomo says it will produce 100,000 tires a day in Thailand

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Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd.'s Thailand plant currently produces 3,000 tires per day. The addition of a second manufacturing module at the factory will enable the facility to eventually build 100,000 tires a day, Sumitomo officials told a group of North American tire dealers yesterday as they toured the firm's plant in Rayong, Thailand.

Sumitomo's Rayong plant began production this past November. By the end of 2007, it is expected to produce 12,000 units per day, Yutaka Kuroda, president of Sumitomo Rubber Thailand, told Modern Tire Dealer Senior Editor Mike Manges during yesterday's plant tour.

The heavily automated factory produces passenger tires (up to 18 inches in diameter) for Sumitomo's Fontana, Calif.-based Falken Tire Corp. subsidiary.

Sumitomo is currently building a new manufacturing facility next door to its current Thai factory that will open by the end of the year and will contribute to the firm's 100,000-unit-per-day target, Kuroda said.

"This plant will make us very competitive, not only in the United States but in the rest of the world," said Falken President Richard Smallwood during a post-tour press conference. "Sumitomo is a very aggressive global competitor."

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