Bridgestone Corporation will begin producing urethane foam for automobile seats in China on August 1. It established Guangzhou Bridgestone Chemical Products Co., Ltd., in Guangzhou on July 5 as a joint venture with the automotive components arm of Guangzhou Automobile Industry Group Co., Ltd. Guangzhou Bridgestone Chemical Products will produce urethane foam at a plant inherited from its Chinese parent until its own new plant is complete. The new plant, scheduled for completion in the latter half of 2005, will increase the company's production capacity fivefold. Bridgestone owns 52% of the joint venture, which has a start-up capitalization of US$8 million.
A global leader in urethane foam for automobile seats, Bridgestone produces that material at plants in Japan and in the United States. Guangzhou Bridgestone Chemical Products will serve burgeoning Chinese demand for high-quality seat materials for automobiles. The company will supply its urethane foam to local seat manufacturers who serve the fast-expanding operations of automakers in China.
Guangzhou Bridgestone Chemical Products joins a large and growing network of Bridgestone operations in China. Bridgestone produces tires at plants in Shenyang and Tianjin and is building a third Chinese tire plant in Wuxi. It makes urethane foam for industrial applications at three Chinese plants, and it also operates plants in China that produce rubber fenders for wharves, rubber crawlers for tractors, high-pressure hose assemblies, bicycles, and golf balls. A plant under construction in Changzhou will produce vibration-absorbing components for automobiles.