Toyo might expand U.S. operations

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Toyo might expand U.S. operations

Toyota Motor supplier Toyo Tire & Rubber is considering expanding U.S. production as part of a plan to concentrate investment in markets where it can gain from profitable products like SUV tires.

The company may raise its annual tire output capacity in the United States to 8.5 million by early 2015, said Toyo President Akira Nobuki at company headquarters in Osaka, Japan. The manufacturer, which gets about 36 percent of it sales from North America, now has the capacity to produce 6.5 million tires a year.

Toyo is among companies benefiting from the recovery of the U.S. auto market and weakening yen. Total car sales in the world’s second-biggest market rose 7.7 percent to 7.83 million vehicles in the first six months of this year, with last month’s deliveries growing at the best monthly pace since November 2007.

“There’s no country like the United States,” said Nobuki. “Manufacturing is making a comeback, and we can picture the scenario of jobs coming back, expanding, and for spending and purchases of cars growing.”

In the United States, where light-vehicle sales are on track for the best year since 2007, Toyota’s deliveries rose 9.7 percent to 195,235 vehicles last month, topping the 6.2 percent average of eight estimates. Toyo Tire said demand for products with higher profit margins, such as tires used in SUVs and pickup trucks, is where the company sees U.S. growth.

Annual U.S. tire production could be increased to 10 million by 2020, Nobuki said. In raising output beyond 2015, the company may consider locations in addition to White, Georgia, site of the company’s only North American facility, he said. AP

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