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Firestone Firehawk paves road to future

By Chris Hutching

Friday 22nd September 2000

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Bridgestone/Firestone says it has secured the future of its factory in Christchurch by commissioning equipment to make a high-tech wet-weather tyre for export.

The company also paid tribute to staff for accepting an employment contract that ushered in 24-hour production and allows a high level of production flexibility for different tyres.

About 250 people are employed at the factory, which has restructured operations and work practices twice in the past 10 years on the promise of new product development and production. Employees have agreed to a seven-day, 24-hour production schedule to lift productivity.

The company is banking on higher export earnings from what it describes as the most advanced and safest high-performance tyre yet produced.

The new tyre is called the Firestone Firehawk and boasts better road grip and clearing of surface water. The company said it was the most advanced and safest high-performance tyre ever made in New Zealand and the Christchurch factory would be among the first to put it into production for sales in Australasia, Southeast Asia and the US.

It is the first tyre to be developed since Firestone and Bridgestone merged in New Zealand two years ago and takes advantage of a much closer relationship with the company in Japan. The Bridgestone/Firestone team has tested the tyre in New Zealand, Japan and Australia, including wet traction testing on the southern motorway in Auckland and the Hutt Valley motorway in Wellington.

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