BFNT wants to make bigger tires in Oklahoma City

May 27, 2004

Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire LLC (BFNT) says its Oklahoma City, Okla., plant needs to be "re-tooled" in order to manufacture more 16-, 17- and 18-inch tires.

"We're talking about a $50 million investment," a BFNT spokesman told today.

The factory already makes larger diameter passenger tires "but it's going to be difficult to follow through if we don't get some clarity on financial investments," including a proposed bill up for vote in Oklahoma this week that would help the plant with substantial capital investment rebates.

The bill -- which was originally proposed to benefit multiple companies -- was restructured yesterday "and narrowed so it would only apply to us. Our position is, 'That's great!'

"The plant could face some issues down the road" if capital investment is not sufficiently addressed now, he says.

"It's expensive to make the transition" to larger diameter tire production.

"We want to do everything we can to make our North American plants more competitive."

The 35-year-old Oklahoma City plant can produce 42,500 passenger and 8,000 light truck tires a day at capacity, according to Modern Tire Dealer research.