Bridgestone, Michelin increase production in NAFTA area

© Bridgestone’s Joliette Plant

Bridgestone, Michelin increase production in NAFTA area

Tire giants Bridgestone and Michelin are investing millions of dollars ramping up their production capabilities in Canada and Mexico. Bridgestone is expanding its existing Canadian facility, while Michelin has broken ground on its new Mexican plant. Here’s what you need to know.

Bridgestone expands in Canada

Bridgestone is expanding its passenger and light truck tire manufacturing facility in Joliette, Québec, as part of a five-year investment that will total more than $250 million.

The plant started off as a Firestone facility in 1966 and specializes in manufacturing passenger, SUV and light truck tires. With 1,300 employees, the Bridgestone Joliette plant is the largest private employer in the Lanaudière region and the facility celebrated the production of its 150 millionth tire in 2014.

What are the plans?

New technologically advanced equipment will be phased in over five years to increase productivity and help the plant support growing North American markets. By 2023 the plant’s capacity is slated to increase by 3,000 tires per day to bring daily production to 20,000 tires.

What is Bridgestone saying about it?

“Our investment in updated equipment and improved manufacturing processes reflects our ongoing commitment to identifying new, cost-effective and innovative ways to serve consumers, dealers and original equipment manufacturers,” said Joliette plant manager Robert Verreault. “Canada continues to represent an important market for our company, and this investment represents a tremendous opportunity for Bridgestone, Joliette, the Lanaudière region and the North American markets by enhancing the long-term viability of this facility.”

Michelin breaks ground in central Mexico

Construction has now begun on Michelin’s new plant in León, Guanajuato, central Mexico. It is the Michelin Group’s largest global investment for 2016, worth approximately $510 million. This is the company’s 69th global plant and its 21st North American one, and will comprise 1.5 million square feet on about 240 acres in the Parque Industrial León-Bajio.

What are the plans?

Completion of the facility is scheduled for late 2018 and production will start straightaway, eventually ramping up to four to five million tires a year. Those tires will mostly be Michelin brand for high-performance and ultra-high-performance cars, light trucks, SUVs and crossover vehicles. The plant is expected to employ at least 1,000 people at capacity.

What is Michelin saying about it?

“Our actions here today demonstrate our confidence in Mexico’s manufacturing environment, the skilled and talented workforce here and the infrastructure necessary to deliver tires efficiently throughout North America,” said Michelin Group chief executive officer Jean-Dominique Senard.

What are other tire companies doing in NAFTA area?

There is plenty of investment currently happening in the tire industry in North America, Canada and Mexico. Yokohama’s $300 million manufacturing plant in West Point, Mississippi, is already operational and will produce up to one million tires annually when running at full capacity. Bridgestone is also expanding its company’s passenger tire manufacturing facility in Wilson, North Carolina, under a five-year, $164 million investment.

Goodyear’s $500 million new tire factory in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, is expected to begin production in mid-2017, with a capacity of about six million tires per year when complete, and Continental is investing about $1.4 billion in a new commercial vehicle tire plant in Mississippi with production planned to start by the end of 2019.

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