SAN DIEGO — Sony Corp. of America announced plans Thursday to expand its Rancho Bernardo plant to include the manufacturing of high-resolution display monitors for computers, the third new product line introduced to the giant facility in the last year.
Sony, which has been making Trinitron television sets at the 750,000-square-foot plant since 1972, will spend $10 million on a 150,000-square-foot addition to be completed by this fall, said Maasaki Morita, deputy president of Sony Corp.
The new plant will take up about 25% of a 32-acre tract Sony acquired last month next to its existing plant. Sony Manufacturing Co. of America President Clinton Michaelis said no other plans for the property have been decided. Employment at the addition will total 200 after five years, Morita said.
Last year, Sony began producing 3.5-inch floppy disk drives, a computer data storage device, at the Rancho Bernardo plant, as well as Sony's NEWS computer workstation model. Before that, the plant had been used only to make televisions. Ninety-five percent of Sony televisions made for the U. S. market are now made in Sony's San Diego and Tijuana plants.
Because of the highly automated production processes, however, the new product lines meant only a "minimal" addition to the 1,500-worker payroll in Rancho Bernardo, spokesman Koh Shimizu said Thursday.
Sony is also moving its newly formed Television Business Group to offices in Rancho Bernardo, a move that will mean 50 new jobs, half of which will be filled locally, group President Koichi Kawakyu said. The group is being moved here from Japan to give the U. S. television operation more autonomy, he said.
Sony and NEC are the two leading manufacturers in the "more than $1-billion" high-resolution video terminal market, Sony spokesman Stephen Burke said. Sony sold 150,000 units in the United States last year but sees the product as a high-growth market, Morita said.
Sony's color monitors, which come in 13-inch, 17-inch and 19-inch screen widths, are used in computer systems made by customers such as Sun Microsystems, IBM and Apple, Sony said.
Sony officials said the monitors have little direct connection to the new high-definition video television technology being developed by Sony and others.