Only two years after the joint venture, the company has launched the “TM 900 High Power”, the latest generation of radial tyres ideal for equipping high power tractors over 250 HP, and those requiring high load capacity. Furthermore the company is going to launch the first Trelleborg radial implement tyre in Hanover, which is the result of the technological synergy between the two brands. At the same time the Trelleborg “TM2000” is being shown; the new generation of radial tyres for combine harvesters, created using Pirelli’s considerable agricultural experience.
There are reports in Romania that Continental is going to invest one million Euro in establishing a logistics centre and warehouse in the country. This month should also see the millionth tyre produced at Continental’s Romanian factory roll off the production line.
On 10th November it was announced that 38 Just Tyre outlets had been sold to a team which includes three Just Tyres managers. Major shareholder in the buy-out is Ian Grant, who was Chief Executive of the Just Tyres Holdings group. The purchase price was not revealed, but it is understood that around 100 jobs have been secured by the deal. The group called in the Administrative Receiver in mid-October and 40 Just Tyres outlets were closed immediately. A further 12 were closed last week, leaving the most profitable 38 depots in the chain. Ian Grant said he was “encouraged” by discussions with suppliers.
Jarro Kaplan, Goodyear’s President for Middle and Eastern Europe, Africa and the Near East, recently officially opened the new Debica logistic centre in Tarnow, Poland. The storage area is 30,000 square metres and the warehouse has 30 loading docks for trucks. 200 new jobs have been created and the investment is estimated at $12 million.
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has taken a major step forward in its efforts to draw a line under the tyre recall saga by hammering out a settlement to avoid lawsuits by US States. The company will pay $500,000 to each of the 50 states and to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. BF Inc. will also spend $5 million on a consumer education campaign and a further $10 million for the states’ legal costs. Up to another $10 million could be spent reimbursing those motorists who have not yet replaced their tyres. Total costs could reach $51.5 million (57.5 Million Euro).
The Board of Directors appointed Giovanni Ferrario Managing Director, who also keeps the position of General Manager Pirelli. Responsibilities for all Operating activities are delegated to Giovanni Ferrario. Finally, Francesco Gori was appointed General Manager Tyre Sector.
Bridgestone has launched four new motorcycle tyres. The first is the Battlax BT-090 an ultra-high performance tyre for mid-sized motorcycles. The tyre uses cutting edge technologies to create an ideal sporting on-road and race tyre. The second, the Battlax BT 012SS, is designed to give uncompromising performance for motorcycles over 600cc. Also announced are two new motocross tyres for medium and medium to hard circuits, the M401 (front) and M402 (rear) for medium terrain, and the M601 (front) and M602 (rear) for hard terrain.
British supercar manufacturer Noble is to fit Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Position tyres as 100 per cent OE to its new sports car, the M12 GTO. The car won Top Gear magazine’s 2001 Driver’s Car Award and it delivers 310 brake horse power through a twin-turbo-charged 24 valve engine.
The Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd has announced that the Chinese Government has approved the establishment of a joint venture company in January 2002 to make and market radial car tyres in China. It is a jv between Yokohama, YHI Holdings (of Singapore) and Hangzhou Rubber, of China. Production will begin in April 2003, initially of 750,000 tyres a year. A second stage of investment will increase this figure up to 1.5 million tyres, depending on demand. Each stage will require an investment of $30 million.
South African company Bridgestone Firestone Maxiprest is expanding and forming a new organisation. The company is to acquire West Cape Bandag and merging four outlets of tyre distributor Prima bande to form Primax Tyres. The outlets will distribute the Maxiprest range of retreads and related tyre services. Maxiprest has 100 retail outlets and 20 retread factories across South Africa.
Vredestein has introduced the Wintrac V XL, a V-rated winter tyre that has the same load capacity as W, Y and Z-rated summer tyres. With few, if any, winter tyres available at these higher speed ratings, drivers have previously had to fit V-rated winter tyres with lower load-carrying capabilities. The Wintrac V XL will be available for this year’s winter tyre season.
Dutch tyre manufacturer Vredestein is adding some new sizes to its existing product range, for example the dimension 350/60-16 12 PR TL to the “Flotation+” profile. With the new “Traxion+” sizes 420/70 R 28 and 520 R 38 it is also possible to choose “extra wide” tyres in the most popular horse power categories. Last but not least the “Flotation Pro” in 22.5 inches is now suitable for speeds up to 65 km/h. Additional sizes are also in preparation, such as 600/55 R 26.5, 700/50 R 26.5 and 800/40 R 26.5.
With the new “Ypsilon” tyre, which was shown for the first time at Agritechnica in Hanover, Continental is breaking into the 22.5 inch tyre sector. The Ypsilion combines all the benefits of implement and MPT radial tyres and is approved for speeds of up to 90 km/h (56 mph). Its all-round suitability means it can be fitted not only to trailed axles but also drive axles. In addition the new, revised Technical Manual comprising of over 100 pages has been published to coincide with Agritechnica. It contains a wealth of information about agricultural tyres, their tread patterns, tyre pressures and application conditions.
Trials, tribulations and shady deals have, in recent years, been the order of the day in the contacts between the Corporation’s management in Hanover and the Semperit GmbH subsidiary in Vienna. On the one hand, due mostly to the fighting spirit of a large part of the personnel, we had the image of a totally unruly company in Traiskirchen, and on the other hand the image of those at the top of the Corporation; not to be trusted any further than they could be thrown. Like the devil fears holy water, the Austrian associates fear the physicist Hubertus von Grünberg who, first as the Continental Corporation’s CEO and now as a sort of Supervisory Superintendent, is spending a lot of time making life impossible for the plant in Traiskirchen. As far as the Austrians are concerned, there can be no possible justification for these measures, and closure of the plant would be seen as a token of utter ingratitude, because Semperit Traiskirchen has amply rewarded the Corporation with returns on their previous investments. The question today is: can Traiskirchen be saved? The company offers employment to 1,500 associates, manufacturing products for a world market under pressure due to overcapacity. The bitter truth is this: the plant is no longer needed, however, the brand is, and so is the market. What they have not quite figured out yet, is how to lose the one and keep the others. Employees point to the closure, at the beginning of the eighties, of the Firestone Plant in Pratteln, Switzerland, which consequently reduced the then market leader to a mere “also ran”. The same fate will befall the Continental Corporation, is the suggestion in Vienna. But the reality may be quite different. At that time, Firestone had withdrawn from the market in the heat of its struggle for survival, tyres had to be ordered by the container load from the Spanish or French plant, the infrastructure had gone, and so had the distribution service. If lights go out in Traiskirchen today, the impact on the market may be close to zero. Austria will be in turmoil but once the telephones of the works council members have been cut, the interest of the public and the press will die down, and so will the interest of the politicians, who are trying to capitalise on the situation, pretending they are fighting to keep the jobs. It will be like in any obituary: fought, hoped and lost. Matters should be approached from a different angle: ranting and raving does not create new jobs.
Michelin wants to underline its reputation for innovation concerning agricultural tyres with the presentation of three new tyres: “MACHXBIB”, “XM 28” for tractors exceeding 180 horse power and the trailer tyre “CARGOXBIB”. The first one comes in two versions: an on-land version (650 mm wide) for transport and for work along the furrow and the in-land version (900 mm wide) with significantly reduced soil compaction and excellent traction performance. Highlight on the Kleber stand is the new “FITKER” a 70-series tyre that will be available in the two dimensions 480/70 R28 and 580/70 R38, and which replaces its predecessors, the “Super 8L” and “9L”.