Yokohama opens Russian factory
On 30 May, Yokohama held an opening ceremony for its new passenger car tyre plant in Russia. The facility, located in the Lipetsk Special Economic Zone and operated by Yokohama R.P.Z., was built with an investment of 4.8 billion roubles (£94.8 million) and is scheduled to reach full operation in the summer of 2013. Further additions will be made to the plant’s production capacity in stages, Yokohama reports. Products made in the new plant include the "C.drive2" and the studded "ice Guard iG35" winter tyre, both of which are core Yokohama products in the Russian market. These tyres will be manufactured in 13 to 18-inch rim diameter sizes and mainly sold in Russia, with some exports going to Europe.
Around 200 people attended the opening ceremony, including Alexander Beglov, authorised representative of the president of Russian Federation in the Central Federal District, Oleg Korolev, Lipetsk governor, Chikahito Harada, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary from Japan to Russia. Attendees from Yokohama Rubber included chairman and CEO Tadanobu Nagumo and Yokohama R.P.Z. president Shinichi Suzuki.
In his speech, Tadanobu Nagumo said “when I visited Russia in 2008, I realised that the Russian automobile society was beginning to mature and that there was a big future potential here. I then decided that it was of utmost importance to have a production plant in Russia. I had an opportunity of meeting some Russians who had come to Japan for training, and it was very reassuring to me how competent they were and how quick they were to learn skills. I am confident that in the future, we can contribute to the prosperity of Russia by supplying our Yokohama-branded high-quality products to the market.”
Yokohama R.P.Z. was established in December 2008 as a first step towards establishing tyre production in Russia. The company is currently capitalised at 3.76 billion roubles (£74.3 million), with an 80 per cent investment share held by Yokohama Rubber and the remainder by Itochu Corporation. Groundbreaking on the plant was held in March 2010.
Yokohama Rubber states that its tyre sales in Russia are rising; in the 2011 financial year it sold some three million tyres there, a 28 per cent increase from the previous fiscal year. The country is now Yokohama’s fourth largest market after Japan, the United States and China.