Sumitomo Will Nearly Double PLT Tire Production in U.S.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. plans to invest $122 million to increase daily production capacity from 8,250 tires to 14,300 tires for passenger cars, light trucks and medium trucks at its plant near Buffalo, N.Y.
By the end of 2023 SRI expects to nearly double its capacity to produce passenger and light truck tires — increasing from the current 6,500 tires a day to 12,000 PLT tires a day.
The expansion of truck and bus tire production, from 1,750 tires daily to 2,300 tires, will be complete by the end of 2024.
The company produces tires near Buffalo, N.Y., in Tonawanda. In terms of new rubber tonnage used, it's currently the smallest of SRI's three tire production facilities in the world. The other plants are located in Thailand and Japan.
Global tire demand for tires dropped dramatically in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and early on officials at Sumitomo Rubber North America had expected to be able to use that slowdown to ramp up production and fill backorders of some of its products, notably the Falken WildPeak A/T3W. But demand for the WildPeak series didn't drop off as expected, and during a series of dealer forums sales leaders have indicated they continue to work on backorders.
SRI says the plant expansion is in response "to increased demand driven by strong sales of our high-performance tires for SUVs and light trucks in the North American market."
The company added, "Our decision to invest in augmenting production capacity at our USA Factory is not only in response to strong sales, but also reflects our great confidence in the factory, which has made enormous progress in improving productivity over the past few years. By augmenting our local production base for the North American market, we aim to reduce sales lead times so that we may further expand sales in this key market."
In addition to the investments in the U.S. factory, the company plans to update production equipment at its factories in Thailand and Japan "to shift toward increased overall production of tires for SUVs and light trucks." That expansion is also designed to support the company's growth in North America.
"With this shift, these two factories will support our push to increase sales of SUV and light truck tires in North America by producing 4,150 of these tires per day by the end of 2023 (Thailand) and 1,600 of these tires per day by the end of 2024 (Miyazaki)."