Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby posted a 16 per cent rise in half year net profit and expects to see full year figures ahead of the previous year’s. However, Sime’s tyre division, DMIB Bhd posted a net loss of 5.8 million ringgit (1,758,000 Euro) against a previous year’s profit of 10 million ringgit (3,031,000 Euro). This, according to the company, was due to the closure of plants making golf balls and aircraft tyres which incurred substantial charges.
Intermec Technologies Corporation has announced the commercial availability of RFID tags and readers that immediately support the new B-11 standard established by the Automotive Industry Action Group’s (AIAG). The B-11 standard will guide further introduction of RFID technology into the auto industry. Among the first planned applications will be inclusion of an RFID tag on new-car tyres, allowing car and tyre manufacturers and tyre retailers to track product throughout production, assembly and distribution.
Titan International has published its 2001 financial results. In the fourth quarter, Titan’s net sales were $100.6 million (Q4 2000: $113.4 m). For 2001as a whole, sales were $457.5 m ($543.1 m). The net loss for Q4 was $21.5 m ($8.0 m) and Titan turned in a net loss for the year of $34.8 m, compared to a net income in 2000 of $4.5 m. President and CEO Maurice Taylor Jr. described 2001 as “difficult for all manufacturers.” On the positive side, Titan settled two long-running (39 months and 40 months) labour disputes and received approval to offer agricultural tyres and wheels through the Case New Holland dealership network.
Dayton Wheel Products, the manufacturer of wire wheels in Centerville, Ohio, has been acquired by Charles G. Schroeder. This is only the third time the business has changed ownership in its 85 year history. The company recently launched a range of alloy wheels, but Schroeder says that Dayton wire wheels have a discerning customer with whom quality will always count – over 80 per cent of customers in the USA ask for Dayton wire wheels by name. The new owner plans to develop the business by concentrating on quality products and capitalising on the loyalty and enthusiasm of his workforce. The company employs 43 people.
Yokohama Rubber and Continental AG have confirmed a contract for the creation of a joint venture to supply original equipment to Japanese motor manufacturers and to develop Continental in the Japanese replacement market. The 50/50 joint venture will be called Yokohama Continental Tire and will aim to sell OE tyres to Japanese and Korean vehicle manufacturers. Importation and distribution of Continental tyres, to be sold through Yokohama outlets in Japan, will begin in April.
Kumho Industrial recorded a net loss for 2001 of 221.5 billion Won (US$169.5 million) on a turnover of 2.68 trillion Won. This loss is an increase of 114 per cent over the year 2000 loss of 103.4 billion Won. Half the loss is accounted for by sales of assets, such as buildings, at a loss. On the positive side, Kumho’s tyre business performed very well, turning in a profit. Kumho is currently involved in negotiations to sell its tyre division for US$1.5 billion in order to reduce group debt.
Leading polyester producer Honeywell Performance Fibers is forming an alliance with Indonesian tyre cord manufacturer GT Petrochem Industries. The aim is to link Honeywell’s polyester fibre product line with GT Petrochem’s conversion facilities to provide a world class tyre cord fabric to the global tyre industry. The two companies have been working closely together since 1996 and the alliance will ensure the supply of quality tyre reinforcement products at competitive prices.
A poll of analysts suggests that Bridgestone’s net profit for 2002 will treble. The forecast is for a net profit of 57.7 billion Yen (500.5 m Euro), compared with the 2001 figure of 17.7 billion Yen (152.3 m Euro). Analysts believe that the corporation is slowly putting the Firestone debacle behind it and there are hopes of a reconciliation with Ford. Other factors causing optimism include the weak Yen and an increase in Bridgestone’s business with GM.
The NHTSA has turned down a request by Firestone to open an inquiry into a possible vehicle fault on the Ford Explorer. Firestone alleges that the Explorer has a greater propensity to roll over than other SUVs. The NHTSA admits that SUVs have a higher tendency to roll than other vehicles, but is adamant that the data held by the organisation does not substantiate Firestone’s claim regarding the Explorer.
In light of questions from bidders about the influence of Sir Tom Farmer on the bidding for Kwik-Fit, Sir Tom and two other directors of the business are taking leave of absence during the expected sale of the fast fit chain. Sir Tom has been named as a possible buyer and is rumoured to be backed by HBOS and the Royal Bank of Scotland. One of the potential bidders for the business which employs 11,500 people at 2,400 outlets, is Deutsche Bank’s venture capital division. The interim managing director will be Dominic DiMarco, Ford’s executive director of diversified consumer services.
Michelin has announced that it will take on more than 1,000 new staff in France in the coming year. These new positions come in addition to the 1,000 new posts planned after the introduction of the 35 hour working week.
Bridgestone and Toyo have both announced plans to boost output in China, destined for the Chinese domestic market. Bridgestone will raise production in total by 40%, with its Tianjin factory producing 13,000 tyres per day, an increase of 30%. Meanwhile, Toyo is looking at methods of increasing production at Jiangsu by 60%.
When Ian Wilson retires from his post of managing director of Vredestein UK at the end of March, he will be replaced by Bert Stellinga who has been with the company since 1994 and is currently the company’s export manager. Bert will take up the post on 1 April.
The White House Office of Management and Budget has asked the NHTSA to review the requirement for new vehicles to be fitted with tyre pressure monitoring equipment fitted to the wheel and tyre assembly. The OMB states that most TPMS work on data sent by the ABS system, and that the added cost of the new system, may lead manufacturers to stop fitting ABS to vehicles on a cost based argument. The NHTSA proposes that vehicle manufacturers phase in a direct pressure monitoring system, replacing existing indirect systems, over the next four years.
The modernization program of Cordenka’s tire cord converting plant in Obernburg (Germany) has recently been completed. Cordenka’s converting concept focuses on saving the tire manufacturer additional processing steps by supplying Cordenka rayon filament for the reinforcement of high-performance tires as cord or cord fabric.