Moody's Investors Service has upgraded its rating for tyre and automotive systems manufacturer Continental AG, and removed the restriction that the company’s rating must remain within three notches above that given to major shareholder Schaeffler AG. This upgrade applies to both the long-term Issuer Rating and the senior unsecured ratings of Continental and its rated subsidiaries, and sees it rise from Baa3 to Baa1.
New figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) confirm the growing strength and vitality of the UK automotive industry and its ascendancy as a major global player. SMMT’s 16th annual Sustainability Report confirms the sector is breaking new records, with turnover hitting an all-time high of £69.5 billion in 2014. Manufacturing output, vehicle sales, jobs and export values also grew, while the environmental impact from vehicle production has been reduced dramatically.
What’s a nanogenerator? It is, we are told, a device or technology that converts mechanical or thermal energy into electricity. The technology has already found its way into automotive and tyre applications, and now the University of Wisconsin-Madison reports that a group of its engineers have, together with a “collaborator from China”, developed a nanogenerator that could increase an electric vehicle’s mileage by around ten per cent.
Falken was able to put the spotlight on its drifting activities at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend, in conjunction with European drift champion and Falken Motorsports professional drifter James Deane. Deane was one of the few to be invited to drift the prestigious hillclimb in front of over 300,000 fans in attendance, and hundreds of thousands more online.
Following its launch at the IAA Show in Hannover in October 2014, Vacu-Lug, the sole UK distributor for all Westlake truck and bus radial tyres, has launched the range in the UK. According to the company, the Westlake range offers a choice of 17.5”, 19.5” and 22.5” rim diameters and consists of four applications: Long Haul, Regional, Mixed Service and Max Load.
MRF Tyres is claiming an Indian-market first with the release of its Revz motorcycle tyre. This new range marks the tyre maker’s – and the country’s – entry into the motorcycle radial segment, and MRF has embarked on an elaborate digital campaign to get the message out. In addition to commissioning an interactive section for the mrftyres.com website, the tyre maker has taken to Twitter under the #RevzolutionIsHere hashtag and is also revving up interest via other social media sources.
Michelin communications head, Michael Küster will take on additional responsibility for commercial vehicle tyres and the Travel Publishing Group public relations on 1 July. Küster was previously head of product and motorsport communications with responsibility for Germany, Austria and Switzerland (DACH region). Nina Grigoleit, who previously supervised these areas, will take on other duties within the company.
A couple of months ago we discussed the “restructuring” of relatively large and modern Chinese manufacturer Deruibao Tire. Back then, Qingdao Doublestar was top of the list of firms connected with an acquisition/cooperation/merger rescue orchestrated by the local government. A month later government-owned ChemChina announced that it was buying Pirelli. This latter point has been covered in some depth in the pages of Tyres & Accessories, especially in our April edition. The Pirelli/ChemChina story will no-doubt garner more attention as the very complex outworkings of the deal are walked out, but what remains of interest is the way in which both the local Chinese market and the global industry are engaged in a period of both parallel and inter-connected consolidation.