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Kumho chooses China for new tire plant

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Kumho Tire Co. has signed a preliminary deal to build a tire manufacturing plant in Tianjin, China. It will be the second Kumho plant in China.

According to Asia-based news sources, Kumho said it expects to begin construction of the facility in the Tianjin Economic and Technology Development Zone after March of next year. The $185 million project will tentatively be completed by early 2007.

Both The Korea Times and the Asia Pulse wire service reported that the plant will predominantly produce passenger tires. The plant´s capacity will be five million units annually.

Kumho runs four tire plants, three in South Korea. Kumho supplies almost all of the vehicle manufacturers in China, helped by its Nanjing, China, facility.

The plant will not be automated, according to Kumho.

In the June issue of Modern Tire Dealer, Kumho officials talked about the company´s need for a fifth plant because it had aggressive growth plans but limited capacity.

J.H. Kim, Kumho´s executive vice president of sales and marketing, believed a second plant in China might turn out to be a necessity. "(China is) not a big market yet for us," said Kim.

Kumho´s newest facility is its year-old Automated Production Unit (APU) in Pyongtaek, Kyungki-do, South Korea. It took between 15 to 20 months to build, and can produce two million passenger and light truck tires annually.

Kumho CEO and President Dr. Sae-Chul Oh told MTD in June that the company was looking outside Korea to construct its second automated tire plant. He admitted that building the plant in either the United States or Europe was a possibility.

Investment in the APU was 70% less than a traditional plant, according to Kumho.

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