Bridgestone Americas Inc. will begin building a race tire manufacturing plant in Akron, Ohio, in the summer of 2019. Production is set to begin in 2020 and will reach about 30,000 Firehawk tires every year.
The Firehawk tire is the official tire of the NTT IndyCar Series, and Bridgestone is the sole tire supplier. Bridgestone announced the plans for the new factory along with an agreement to extend its partnership with the NTT IndyCar Series through 2025 on Feb. 6, 2019.
The Nashville, Tenn.-based company declined to share the amount of its investment in the plant, which will be called the Bridgestone Advanced Tire Production Center (ATPC). However, Bridgestone Americas Senior Communications Manager Tana Pflaum provided background on the project’s timeline and other details. Cara Adams, chief engineer for Bridgestone Americas Motorsports, answered MTD’s questions on production and capacity.
MTD: What is the scope of the construction project and when will the plant begin producing tires?
Pflaum: Plans include both new construction and the full renovation of an existing structure across the street from the Bridgestone Americas Technical Center. Construction of the new facility is expected to start this summer, and early plans are for the site to produce its first Firestone Firehawk race tires for use in the NTT IndyCar Series by the end of 2020.
MTD: When will construction be completed?
Pflaum: The plan will be to transition our full team of expert tire builders and all race tire manufacturing to the new facility gradually over the next four years.
MTD: When will tire production begin?
Pflaum: We anticipate the new facility will produce its first Firestone Firehawk race tire for testing in the NTT IndyCar Series by the end of 2020.
MTD: How many will be employed at the new ATPC?
Pflaum: Our full team of more than 50 expert tire builders and manufacturing professionals will move to the new facility over the next four years.
MTD: Will the plant produce only Firehawk race tires? Or will it be able to produce other types of tires? If yes, please describe.
Adams: Initially, the tires produced in Bridgestone’s new Advanced Tire Production Facility will be Firestone Firehawk race tires for the NTT IndyCar Series, as well as a few emerging technology tires. As opportunities arise in the future, we will have the flexibility to build more than just these tire types on the new equipment. However, there are no definitive plans for that at this time.
MTD: How many tires per day will be produced at first? What will capacity be at full production?
Adams: Initially, we will start with small builds of several tires and focus on validating the equipment and tires. As we move more equipment in, we will eventually be producing approximately 30,000 tires per year or more, with a good amount of room for more tires if the need arises.
MTD: How many tires per day are being produced at the Bridgestone Advanced Technology Workshop (the existing site of Firehawk tire production in Akron) currently? What types of tires are produced at the Workshop?
Adams: Currently, we produce more than 26,000-30,000 tires per year at Bridgestone’s Advanced Technology Workshop. The vast majority of these are race tires for the NTT IndyCar Series, but we have some small volume dedicated to emerging technology tire production, as well.
MTD: Will the new ATPC have more production capacity than the Workshop, and if yes, how much more?
Adams: The Advanced Tire Production Facility will have similar capacity to the Advanced Technology Workshop, and we can expand capacity as needed.
Click here for details on Bridgestone's partnership with the NTT IndyCar Series.