The Tyre Press, the world’s leading publication for the wheel and tire industry, recently published a report about the top tire manufacturers in the world.
It named Bridgestone of Japan as the No. 1 tire brand in the world, in terms of global sales, production and total earnings. Michelin (France) was 2nd, Goodyear (USA) was 3rd, Continental (Germany) was 4th and Pirelli (Italy) was 5th.
Bridgestone’s No. 1 ranking is the result of years of experience, loads of engineering, and careful planned evolution. The very first Bridgestone tire ever produced was a motorcycle tire made in April 9, 1930 by the Tabi Socks Tire Division of Japan. On March 1, 1931, founder Shōjirō Ishibashi established the Bridgestone Tire Co., Ltd. in the city of Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture. The company was named using the reverse amalgamation of Ishibashi: ishi – stone and bashi—bridge.
Bridgestone did not depend on the then-dominant European and North American technology but instead relied on manufacturing tires using Japanese technology. It initially experienced technological, production, and sales problems at the start but eventually, quality and manufacturing processes were improved that led the tire brand’s rapid expansion in domestic and overseas markets. After the hostilities of World War II ended in 1945, Bridgestone immediately resumed its operations in their Kurume and Yokohama factories despite the extensive damage to their Tokyo head office.
The increased demand for their tires prompted the company to undergo a modernization program from 1951-1955 to improve their manufacturing facilities. Their efforts were rewarded in 1953 when sales surpassed 10 Billion Yen and made Bridgestone the No.1 tire manufacturer in Japan. They opened the Tokyo factory in 1960 to cope with the expanding Japanese automotive industry. After adopting the Deming Plan to improve overall quality control activities, the company started opening overseas plants and sales offices in Asia, North America and Europe.
Tire Technology Firsts
Bridgestone was the first Japanese tire company with rayon cord tires in 1951 and the first with nylon tires in 1959. They introduced their first radial tire, the Bridgestone RD10, in 1967 and won the prestigious Deming Prize in 1968 for their quality control activities. Despite the economic slowdown caused by OPEC oil embargo in 1973, Bridgestone continued to establish proprietary radial tire technology in their new manufacturing facilities. They introduced the Super Filler Radial in 1978 and the high-performance Potenza in 1979. They also went into diversified products like the Bridgestone Metalpha steel cord plant in Tennessee, USA, which now dominates the supply of steel cords to majority of the world’s tire manufacturers.
The company likewise went into motorsports to improve their tires’ performance, safety, and durability features. Since 1976, Bridgestone supplied tires to Formula One, Formula 2, Formula 3, Formula Ford, Formula Opel-Lotus, Le Mans, and professional karting. Bridgestone tires helped Mika Häkkinen and McLaren-Mercedes win the Formula One Driver’s Championship and Constructor’s Championship title in 1998 and Michael Schumacher and Scuderia Ferrari win the titles from 2001 to 2004. With the purchase of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in 1988, Bridgestone got into Champ Car, IndyCar, and Indy Lights in 2000. All their racing experiences went into the Bridgestone tires that you can buy off the shelf.
From manufacturing their first tire in 1930, to making golf balls in 1935, aircraft tires in 1936, bicycles in 1949, motorcycles in 1952, to making racing tires for Formula One, Bridgestone has evolved continuously with the times. Today, the Bridgestone Corporation has 181 production facilities in 24 countries with 47 tire manufacturing facilities, 29 tire-related plants, 19 raw material plants, 89 diversified product plants, 4 technical centers, and 11 proving grounds around the world. Bridgestone has also announced plans to open production facilities in Cameroon, Africa (2020), Myanmar (2012), South Korea (2022), Kenya (2023), Estonia (2024), Puerto Rico (2025), Belarus (2026) and Bolivia (2027) to meet the rising tire demands in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Oceania, the Middle East and Africa.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.