Yokohama to build its largest oversees R&D centre in US
Yokohama Rubber will build a tyre research & development centre in North Carolina, with R&D activities scheduled to start this September initially in the greater Charlotte area.
The company presently conducts R&D on tyres for the North American market in several U.S. states and in Japan, but looks to consolidate the majority of these R&D activities at the new center soon. The consolidation of R&D activities will strengthen the company’s R&D framework and further accelerate its ability to deliver new tyre products that meet market needs in a timely manner, said the company in a statement.
With the consolidation, Yokohama also plans to double the current size of its North American R&D staff.
The new center initially will engage in the design of new tyres for passenger cars and other consumer applications, but will gradually expand its activities to include testing & evaluation, design of tyres for industrial and construction machinery, technical services and quality assurance. The North Carolina location was selected on the basis of its ability to attract high-quality staff and its close proximity to a hub airport. Yokohama Rubber will consider additional investment in its facilities in line with the expansion of the breadth of its activities.
Yokohama Rubber’s North American operations currently include the sale of tyres for passenger cars, trucks and buses, and industrial and construction machinery, with tyre manufacturing facilities in Virginia and Mississippi and its corporate headquarters in California. During Phase IV (2015–2017) of its Grand Design 100 (GD100) medium-term management plan, Yokohama Rubber is placing even greater importance on the huge North American market and plans to strengthen local sales of original equipment tyres and replacement tires. Consolidation of its R&D function in North America is an important part of that management strategy.
A strong proponent of local production for local consumption, Yokohama Rubber also has been strengthening its tire R&D activities in regional centers close to the markets it serves. The company established its Nürburgring Test Center in Germany in 2006, its Tire Test Center of Asia in Thailand in April 2009, and the Yokohama China Technical Center in China in January 2012. The new tyre R&D center in the United States will become the company’s largest overseas R&D center in terms of both functions and number of employees.