Effective February 1, 2002 Goodyear Great Britain Limited and Dunlop Tyres Limited will implement an organisational structure reflecting its intentions to manage the two brands separately in the marketplace supported by various shared service functions. Among the key appointments are the following, who report to Marco Molinari, Chairman and Group Managing Director UK Operations: Bill Yates, Managing Director Dunlop Tyres Limited, Bill Hall is appointed Managing Director Goodyear Great Britain Limited and Paul Harrell, GM Retail Operations.
The new Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S cars, now made by BMW, are due to arrive on the US market in March. The cars will be fitted with Goodyear NCT 5 EMT run-flat tyres, manufactured in Fulda, Germany. The tyre size is 195/55 VR15.
Bandag has announced consolidated net earnings of $17.4 million for the quarter ending 31st December 2001, bringing total net consolidated earnings for the year to $43.8 million, or $2.12 per diluted share on sales of $964.9 million. This compares to 200 net earnings of £60.3 million on sales of $996.1 million. Martin Carver, Bandag’s CEO stated that strong results in the last quarter were offset by performance in offshore operations. He noted that offshore operations continued to experience difficult economic conditions and strong competitive pressures.
Indonesia and Thailand have threatened to cut rubber production. Indonesia and Thailand are planning an immediate 10 per cent cut in production in a plan to push prices up by as much as 30 per cent. Malaysia is expected to follow suite. If the cuts are effective it could result in 20 per cent price rises in the retail prices of tyres. In order to sustain the cuts, Indonesia and Thailand are proposing to convert rubber plantations into alleged cash crops such as cocoa and coffee. It is expected that the main beneficiary of this move would be Russia, the main producer of synthetic rubber.
Superior announced the award of several new and replacement programs under the previously announced long term supply agreement which has now been finalized and signed with General Motors Corporation. The first of these programs will begin production in the Spring of 2002 and include the Saturn vehicle name plate; a first for Superior Industries. “These recent business awards demonstrate the value of this unprecedented year contract to both General Motors and Superior Industries because it was based on long term performance in delivering the highest quality, technology and service at competitive prices,” said Louis L. Borick, President and Chairman of Superior Industries.
Tyre wholesalers, R.H. Claydon today announced a new series of additions to their Supreme brand of agricultural and industrial tyres. The company’s business development manager, Dick Anderson said, “we do not consider our Supreme range to be classified within the budget sector. It is a brand that delivers quality at an economical price”.
Goodyear Tire and Rubber is considering cutting sales to vehicle manufacturers due to declining profits. The company may also shift some manufacturing to sub-contractors in an attempt to improve margins. Goodyear claims that OE supply could be cut by as much as 24 per cent in three years. 30 per cent of Goodyear tyre sales are to vehicle manufacturers. Unless the tyre manufacturer can secure price increases for OE tyres production could be cut by as many as 5 million units. There have also been suggestions that Goodyear may sub-contract private label production to third parties.
Hayes Lemmerz has decided to close two North American plants, one producing steel wheels, another producing aluminium wheels. The aluminium wheel plant is at Somerset, Kentucky (formerly Alumitech), which the world’s largest wheel manufacturer only took over in 1998 from a 50/50 joint venture. The Somerset plant manufactured mainly one-piece cast wheels for the Mercedes M-class. In future the Hayes Lemmerz factory in Hoboken (Belgium) and Ronal’s factory in Mexico will supply the M-Class with aluminium wheels.
John McNaught, 52, has been appointed managing director of Bridgestone/Firestone UK and will assume his role on Monday 4th February. He has worked in the UK tyre industry since 1976 when he started with Goodyear. He moved to Central Tyres, part of the Pirelli organisation, in 1985, rising to the position of operations director and then switched to National Tyre Service, part of Continental, as a regional director. Mr McNaught became the managing director of National Tyre Service in 1998 and managed the sale of the business in 2001. Since August last year he has worked as director of commercial products for Continental Tyres. Bridgestone’s marketing director, Chikuma Otsuki has been acting managing director since the retiral of Jim Wilson.
According to Goodyear, the tyres used on tomorrow’s electric vehicles will be low rollers. Low rolling resistance tyres. Tyres used on General Motors Autonomy fuel cell car were 22 inch diameter and pumped to higher pressures to ensure low rolling resistance. Ride has been improved by adopting a rounder profile sidewall on a narrower rim. The tyres are designated E-metric – for use on electric and hybrid vehicles.
TRW Chassis Systems has entered an agreement with a major vehicle manufacturer to develop and supply regenerative braking systems based on electro-hydraulic brake technology. TRW Chassis Systems claims that 5 per cent improvement in braking can be gained through the new brake-by-wire technology involved. It is estimated that the system will be launched on the market in 2003.
As part of the Southam’s ongoing development of the successful Roadhog Supreme private brand, three new van tyre sizes are being introduced 225/70R15 8 ply, 195/75R16 8 ply and 205/65R15 6 ply. Southam Tyres who have recently been acquired by Micheldever Tyre Services plc, also confirmed further advances with their budget brand, Autogrip. Both the Roadhog Supreme and Autogrip range are marketed by Southam Tyres’ national independent dealer network, Autostop.
Bridgestone Corporation and Continental AG signed a technical agreement on January 21, 2002 in Tokyo. It provides two companies to cooperate in creating global standard systems in run-flat tyre systems for installation on standard wheels for passenger cars and light trucks. Under this agreement, Bridgestone will furnish technology and grant license to Continental on its Self Supporting Runflat Tyre (SSR), which has earned high regard and multiple fitments from leading automakers globally. At the same time, Continental will furnish technology and grant license on its original technology on the ContiSafetyRing run-flat system (CSR) to Bridgestone.
On January 16th, aluminium wheel manufacturing group Intra (Bruchsal/Germany) filed for insolvency. Elements of the group are the ILG casting facility, Intra Fleischmann + Wacker, Exip Autoparts and leasing company Intrex. The insolvency administrator has the task of saving as many of the 260 employee positions as possible and the intention to restructure the company, which is a key OE wheel supplier to Opel. Negotiations with credit institutions and suppliers are ongoing and production is being maintained.
A new Finance Act that was passed at the end of December by the Italian Parliament provides that public bodies and the managers of public services will have to reserve at least 20 per cent to retreads in their orders of spare tyres for their fleets of passenger cars as well as commercial and industrial vehicles. The Italian retreading association, AIRP, representing a large concentration of machinery manufacturers and more than 100 specialised retreading companies, sees “interesting prospects” for their industry and underlines that the retreaders must now operate in compliance with EEC-UN Regulations 108 and 109 providing for retreads the same strict tests to be carried out as for the approval of new tyres.