Tyre manufacturers of the world: Japanese tyre brands
In our series Tyre Manufacturers of the World, we are delving into the origins of famous international tyre brands. This time we focus on Japan, which has given the tyre industry some of its best-known household names
Bridgestone was founded in 1931, in the town of Kurume in Fukuoka province, Japan. The company took its name from founder, Shojiro Ishibashi. Ishibashi translates literally as “stone bridge” in English. The Bridgestone Corporation still has its headquarters in Japan, but now in the heart of Tokyo. In addition to tyres, the manufacturer also produces golf equipment, construction materials, equipment for bicycles, cars, trucks, aeroplanes and trains, and even electrical components.
Sumitomo and Falken
To trace the roots of Sumitomo, we have to go back several hundred years. In 1615, the Buddhist monk Masatomo Sumitomo founded a copper mining company in Kyoto. However, it was only in 1909 that the Sumitomo group joined the tyre industry by investing in the Japanese branch of Dunlop. The activities of the Sumitomo Rubber branch are varied, ranging from car and motorcycle tyres to sports equipment
In Europe, Sumitomo is best known for its subsidiary, Falken Tire, which produces tyres in Germany and has its headquarters in Offenbach-am-Main. However, the brand’s international headquarters are still located in Japan where Falken was created in 1983. The Falken brand (German for falcon), originally belonged to the “Ohtsu Tire & Rubber Company”, which was initially based in Izumiotsu and now in Kobe. Over the years it has been absorbed by Sumitomo and is today a subsidiary of the Group.
Created in 1917 in a joint venture with BF Goodrich, Yokohama originates from the Japanese town of the same name and now has its base in the heart of the Japanese capital. The manufacturer, which celebrated its 100th birthday last year, originally specialised in electrical cables, before diversifying into the production of rubber and then tyres. Today the brand also produces aluminium tyre rims. Whether in motorsports or in football, Yokohama has forged itself a solid worldwide reputation.
Toyo Tire & Rubber was founded in 1945 by the textile company Toyobo with the aim of expanding into the rubber industry. Today, its company headquarters are in Osaka, Japan.