PITTSBURGH — In a move that will let the Japanese take up where the Germans left off, Sony Corp. said Tuesday that it will spend $300 million to build a TV picture tube manufacturing operation in a plant abandoned two years ago by West Germany's Volkswagen AG.
The Japanese electronics giant said the project, on Volkswagen's former 800-acre site in New Stanton, Pa., will significantly boost its U.S. production capacity. The new plant will also complement Sony's TV facility in San Diego and is closer to suppliers.
Sony expects to begin operations at the plant by 1992.
"Sony's TV business in the U.S. is growing rapidly," Sony Corp. of America Chairman and Chief Executive Masaaki Morita said at a news conference.
"In order to support our growth, and to reduce costs associated with producing large-screen picture tubes, we must have a major picture tube plant in the eastern United States as a counterpart to our thriving San Diego operation," Morita said.
Nearly all Sony TVs that are sold in North America are already made here, Morita said.
"This new facility--one of the largest single investments in new facilities that Sony has made at one time--will allow us to continue our long-standing commitment to manufacture where we market," he said.
The plant will be refurbished and is expected to create up to 1,000 new jobs in three years, Sony said.
Volkswagen shut the facility, used to make its Rabbit model, two years ago after its business had slowed. The Volkswagen plant employed 5,700 people at its peak and 2,500 when it was closed.
Kuni Ando, president of Sony Engineering & Manufacturing of America, said after the news conference that the building is going to have to be gutted and Sony will have to spend $75 million to $100 million on renovation.
The state of Pennsylvania has given Sony a $23.5-million package of low-interest loans and job training grants to help attract the Japanese firm to the New Stanton site.
The plant will be capable of supporting future technological developments such as picture tubes for high-definition television.