Toyo announces plans to build a tire plant in the U.S.

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Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. has decided to build a new passenger and light truck tire manufacturing plant in the United States.

"Producing Toyo tires at a U.S.-based facility will more fully enable us to serve our customers in North America," said Yoshio Kataoka, Toyo's CEO and president. "Our greatest demand is in the North American market."

The move is a necessary one, according to Toyo. In response to "robust overseas demand," Toyo has almost maxed out its tire production capacity in Japan.

In addition to providing needed capacity, a plant in the United States is expected to help hedge the company's bets against currency fluctuation risk.

The new plant will be located at a site chosen from among several candidates in the eastern-half of the United States, with a site in Georgia the frontrunner.

The company says it will invest $150 million in the plant, which tentatively will be operational sometime in 2006. Once the plant becomes operational, it will initially employ close to 350 workers.

Toyo estimates the plant will produce approximately two million passenger car and light truck tires annually.

"We take very seriously our commitment to the communities where our facilities are located," said Kataoka. "Toyo is, and will remain, a good corporate citizen and a good neighbor."

Toyo's domestic subsidiary, Toyo Tire (U.S.A.) Corp., is co-owner (with Continental Tire North America Inc. and Yokohama Tire Corp.) of the GTY truck tire facility in Mount Vernon, Ill.

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