A year after closing S.C. plant, Michelin announces new tire factory in Mexico

Michelin tires announced that it's building a new manufacturing plant in central Mexico on Monday. The company assured in a statement that the new facility would not impact the 9,400 workers the company employs in South Carolina.

The Mexican factory will cost $510 million to construct and will produce tires for passenger cars and small trucks. It is scheduled to open in 2018 and make 4 to 5 million tires a year initially, the company announced.

Stephanie Tarbet, a spokeswoman for Greenville, S.C.,-based Michelin North America, said in a statement to the Greenville News about the new factory, “The plant is good news for our company in Mexico, North America and globally.”

Possibly, but it would be understandable if nerves were a bit frayed by the announcement.

The bulk of U.S. employees are located in Anderson, Greenville, Spartanburg and Lexington counties in South Carolina. Last year the company suspended operations at its Earthmover tire plant in the Anderson Country community of Starr, citing a slowdown in the global market for giant tires.

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"The decision to put this facility in a standby mode affected approximately 100 employees, all of whom were offered positions at other Michelin facilities," Tarbet told Fox News Latino in a written statement. "The Starr facility and its equipment will be maintained so that operations can restart in a timely manner when market conditions improve and customer demand increases. In the meantime, we can produce the number of tires needed for our customers with existing capacity from other Earthmover facilities, including the nearby Lexington, S.C., facility."

Michelin says it chose the location in León in the Mexican state of Guanajuato for its proximity to 18 auto factories, all within a three-hour drive. Being closer will save money on product delivery and reduce carbon emissions, the company said.

Michelin currently employs almost 600 people in its Mexico operations, which includes a tire plant in the state of Querétaro.

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