This week, 45 years ago, a manufacturing milestone took place in our state that would set South Carolina on the road to becoming a true powerhouse in the automotive industry. On March 10, 1975, the first radial passenger tire rolled off the assembly line at the new Michelin plant in Greenville. The facility, Michelin U.S. 1, was the French company's first venture into major manufacturing operations in the United States and, at the time, was the largest single foreign investment in S.C. history.
Looking at South Carolina's tire industry today, we are a true juggernaut. We lead the nation in the export sales of tires, accounting for more than one-third of the total U.S. market share. We are number one in production, manufacturing approximately 133,000 tires each day within our borders. Representing five countries - France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and Sweden - South Carolina's diverse tire industry also boasts companies like Bridgestone, Continental, Giti and Trelleborg. In total, these companies operate 13 facilities across the state, employing approximately 12,000 South Carolinians.
Our tire industry roots can be traced back to Michelin's confidence in our state to be a place where the rubber meets the road. Now, 45 years later, every time a new tire rolls of an assembly line in our state, it further reiterates that South Carolina's tire industry is on a roll.