By Liz White, UT contributing editorTokyo-Bridgestone Corp. has set up a joint venture which will start making polyurethane foam for vehicle seats in Guangzhou, China, 1 Aug. The foam-making JV- Guangzhou Bridgestone Chemical Products Co. Ltd- was set up 5 July with the automotive components arm of Guangzhou Automobile Industry Group Co. Ltd. Bridgestone, which describes itself as a global leader in seat foam, said it is making foam at a plant inherited from the Chinese partner until a new plant is complete in 2005.Bridgestone owns a controlling stake-52 percent-of the joint venture, which has start-up capital of $8 million and will employ about 180. “Guangzhou Bridgestone Chemical Products will serve burgeoning Chinese demand for high-quality seat materials for automobiles,” said a company statement. The JV will supply urethane foam to local seat makers serving the fast-expanding operations of the vehicle manufacturers in China. Bridgestone currently has seat foam plants in Japan and in the US, but in China it only makes urethane foam for industrial applications, at three sites.The new operation will increase the company’s foam production capacity in China fivefold, according to the firm’s statement. “
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