Bridgestone-Firestone Costa Rica will invest $50 million during the next five years to modernize factory equipment and shift its production scheme.
The tire company will begin to focus on production of radial tires, the standard tires used by most vehicles, for both foreign and national markets, leaving production of cheap tires to Asian manufacturers, the daily La Nación reported.
Radial tires, with better grip for smoother braking, are more stable and better for driving under rainy conditions.
Bridgestone-Firestone Costa Rica president and manager, Humberto Gómez, said the modernization of the factory, located in La Ribera de Belén, near Cariari on the road from San José to Alajuela, responds to changes in the demand of its main market: the United States.
While in 1997, sales to the United States represented only 18% of its production, nine years later, they represent 72% of its sales, with Central American and Costa Rica sales dropping from 42% and 40% in 1997 to 16% and 12%, respectively, according to the daily.
In March 2007, the company will also resume production of agricultural vehicle tires for the national market, the company announced June 23 during a visit by Vice-Minister of Economy Jorge Woodbridge.