The funding will be aimed at doubling car tyre production at the Poznan factory in Poland to 23,000 tyres a day, as well as lifting truck and bus tyre production by 30 per cent to 4,600 units at the Spanish plant at Bilbao.
Investment will also be made into Bridgestone's Research & Development facilities in Rome – including the completion of a high-speed test track.
The company changed its name to Bridgestone Europa (from Bridgestone/Firestone Europe) on 1st January 2003 – a move which a spokesman says dovetails with the drive for growth in the European marketplace. “This helps to distinguish the company's global identity from that of its brands, which in Europe include Bridgestone, Firestone, Dayton, Europa and First Stop,” she adds.
It is not only the size of the European tyre market that is proving irresistable to Bridgestone.
The company says the continent provides unique strategic opportunities for future growth, as it is the home of the world's “most sophisticated automobile industry” and cites high-performance cars, four-wheel drives and mini-vans as a key market opportunity.