Bridgestone has announced it is expanding the company’s Williamsburg, Kentucky, air springs manufacturing plant.

The $51 million investment in the Firestone Industrial Products’ (FSIP) plant will help meet market demand in the automotive vehicle market with a focus on the electric vehicle (EV) sector. The expansion of the facility is expected to break ground the second quarter of this year and wrap up by the end of 2022.

The expansion will focus on the addition of 68,000 square feet of manufacturing space to accommodate new equipment that will increase plant capacity. This investment also includes increasing the workforce at the Williamsburg plant by 250 employees.

FSIP is a leading global supplier of air suspensions for the EV industry. Firestone air suspensions not only help improve ride comfort and handling, but also can increase electric vehicle range and help protect batteries from road impact and overheating. This new chapter in EV automotive was born from a decades’ long history of designing and supplying parts to the majority of commercial vehicle manufacturers in North America. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has supplied product to keep these essential services providers moving.

“With the increase in vehicle electrification, Firestone air suspension systems are in high demand among the most innovative and forward-thinking original equipment manufacturers globally,” said Emily Poladian, president, Firestone Industrial Products. “Firestone air suspensions are optimally designed with electric vehicles in mind. Compared to traditional coil spring suspensions, our air suspensions are designed to help improve the handling and comfort of heavier electric vehicles and can even help improve EV range by lowering the vehicle to help improve aerodynamics. Advanced air suspensions are increasingly a ‘must-have’ technology on premium electric vehicles, and Firestone is committed to maintaining its leadership in this exciting and important market.”

Parts for the commercial transportation vehicle market (truck, trailer and bus) and automotive vehicle markets are produced at the Williamsburg Plant which is the only full U.S. manufacturer of this product category. The company’s other U.S. plant is located in Dyersburg, Tennessee, where air springs are assembled. FSIP designs, tests, and manufactures air suspensions at its location in Williamsburg, Kentucky, as well as in Brazil, China, Costa Rica and its newly expanded facility in Poland. FSIP’s North America Advanced Technical Design Center in Fishers, Indiana, enables the company to remain agile and focus on speed to market which is a key requirement of start-up EV companies.

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“As we continue to work toward a brighter future for all Kentuckians, I want to thank Firestone Industrial Products for its commitment to Whitley County, the Eastern Kentucky region and the commonwealth as a whole,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said. “This company has been an important corporate partner in our state for decades, and this investment by Firestone in support of the emerging electric vehicle market ensures that will continue to be the case for years to come. Thank you to the company’s leadership for furthering their commitment to Kentucky.”

FSIP purchased the building and land located in Williamsburg in 1988. The Williamsburg Plant is currently 375,000 square feet. It is one of the largest employers in the area with more than 500 employees. Williamsburg Plant employees embody the company’s global corporate social responsibility commitment, Our Way to Serve, with initiatives in community support, education and environmental conservation and preservation