FINDLAY — Two models of the 2013 Ford Focus will come from the factory equipped with tires made by Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. — the company’s first foray into the U.S. original equipment market.
The Findlay company announced this week it had been selected to supply tires for the Focus in SE and Titanium trim. The SE and Titanium are Ford’s mid and upper-level trim choices for the Focus. Up until now, Cooper Tire had made tires only for the replacement market, primarily for passenger cars and light trucks.
“This new relationship with Ford marks our company’s entry into the U.S. passenger car OE tire market, a strategic decision aligned with our goal to drive profitable sales by diversifying product mix, expanding sales channels, and leveraging technology,” company Chief Eexecutive Officer Roy Armes said in a statement.
The two Focus models will use Cooper’s RS3-A, a high-performance, all-season tire.
Mr. Armes said Cooper will remain focused on its replacement tire business, but said entering the original equipment market gives the company another way to grow.
“Our partnership with Ford provides another opportunity for growth and speaks to the increasing demand for our products as well as the value proposition we deliver,” he said. Cooper is the fourth-largest tire manufacturer in the United States.
Also yesterday, the Ohio Third Frontier committed $2.8 million for Cooper’s proposed Global Technical Center. The funding is contingent on it being built in Findlay.
Cooper will commit more than $40 million to the project over the next five years, and will create 40 full-time jobs over the next three years, including positions for engineers, scientists, technicians, and technical managers. Ohio Third Frontier, part of Ohio Development Services Agency, invests money to create and retain businesses and jobs.