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Cooper/Kenda JV Making Tracks in China

(Clacton, U.K./Tyres & Accessories) Seven months after officially starting the project, construction workers building Cooper/Kenda’s joint venture manufacturing plant have almost finished.

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The 800,000-square-foot manufacturing facility is situated in an industrial park in Kunshan, a suburb west of Shanghai. This first phase of the project is expected to be completed by December 2006.

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The facility has 12,000 concrete pilings, many of which are driven 40 feet into the ground. The exterior walls are made of two layers of reinforced concrete and brick. The reason it only took seven months to construct all this? 1,300 workers have been involved in the building process. Northeast Mississippi’s Daily Journal reports that projects of this size generally take up to two years to finish in China.

John Ebert, who managed the Tupelo Cooper Tire plant four years ago and came to China 14 months ago, is in charge of the project. “The tyres that will be made here are the broadline tyres, the ones at opening price points of $30 to $35 each,” said Ebert. “These are not the high performance tyres that we will be making,” explained Ebert, alluding to the fact that the Tupelo plant makes those kinds of tyres, among others.

“In the replacement market in the U.S., half of the buyers are buying their tyres from companies which are in low-cost areas like this. Our competition is here. And for us to be competitive, we have to make the entry-level tyres here as well,” he added.

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