The French tyre manufacturer launched a 1.5 billion Euro bond issue of a two part bond. The issue surprised the markets and has a seven-year maturity on a One billion Euro bond, plus a further 500 million pounds in a ten year bond.
Automotive analysts, Autopolis predict a 13 per cent fall in the European car market (from 1999 peak level, in the next 18 months. The claim is based on the European trend showing first in Scandinavian markets, Greece and the Netherlands. Danish demand has already fallen by 40 per cent, Finland by 20 per cent and Greece by 29 per cent in the last year. Economic conditions reinforce the prediction, which would see the market drop by 1.9million units by 2003. Autopolis expects recovery in late 2003, but that there will be little long-term growth till 2010, with Toyota and Hyundai making the greatest gains, whilst smaller producers lose share.
Hayes Lemmerz International Inc has announced a strategic re-alignment of its European wheel operation. The move creates a new European Wheels Group from the European Fabricated Wheels and European Cast Wheels Business Units. Giancarlo Dallera, from the European cast Wheels Business Unit will be president of the new European Wheels Group, reporting to Curtis Clawson, Hayes Lemmerz Chairman, President and CEO.Clawson says, “This realignment positions us uniquely in the market-place to provide unparalleled service, as well as create one trusted source of solutions for our customers.”
North American Truck sales have plummeted, down by as much as 50 per cent since the 1999 peak. There are signs that the downturn may spread to Europe. European truck manufacturers expect sales to fall by 15-20 per cent in 2002. Volvo has declared US deliveries of trucks down 40 per cent and a 21 per cent decline in Europe. Daf also expect to see the European market fall by 20-25 per cent this year.
At a time when Goodyear is selling and downsizing, the company has announced a 4.7 million Dollar expansion at its Asheboro, North Carolina plant. The plant manufactures steel wire for tyres, hoses and conveyors. The expansion will involve the expansion of the workforce by 20.
The UK, according to the Guardian, is at threat from mosquitoes imported in used tyre casings. In the past year an Asian breed of mosquito has been found breeding in Brittany, thought to have been imported with used tyre casings. Other species have been found in France, Belgium, Italy and Albania. These insects may not only spread malaria, but dengue fever, yellow fever, equine encephalitis and West Mile virus. There are calls to set up a register of tyre importers and to monitor for mosquitoes at their depots.
Leo Ladehoff has stepped down as chairman of Amcast a day after the announcement that its second quarter loss had been reduced to 4.9 million Dollars in 2002. Ladehoff will remain as a director, but his post of chairman will be taken by CEO Byron Pond. Meanwhile, Joseph Grewe is joining Amcast as president and COO. Grewe will be responsible for all Amcast operations and will report to Pond.
The latest Audi A8 Sport will come with a no-charge option of a nine-spoke 20 inch wheel. This will also be available on the A8 Quattro. The standard A8 will be offered with an 18 inch hollow-spoke five-spoke polished alloy wheel.
Morgan Stanley sees Continental Shares as positives at the end of the 17th Global Automotive Conference. Conti boss Manfred Wennemer had previously stuck to the goal of reducing debts and had announced that Continental was to buy the remainder of the Temic shares from Daimler Chrysler in the co ming month at a cost of 200 million Euro. When, as planned in the previous year, all five factories have been closed down, more than 50 per cent of Conti’s production capacities will be located in low wage-cost countries. After Wennemer’s statements in New York, some analysts, as has already been quoted in leading economic journals, regard it as possible, or even probable, that Continental is already thinking about dropping its truck tyre production completely – whereas the passenger tyre sector is still closely allied to the concept of chassis management.
Next month, Michelin will close its truck tyre plant at Burnley (UK) and move the production capacity to Romania where the company took over a local producer several months ago. This move was confirmed by CFO Michel Rollier during the Global Automotive Conference held by Morgan Stanley in New York.Rollier added that the truck tyre business should create an average operating profit between 13 and 14 per cent. In the previous year this had been just 8.8 per cent due to the declining market. – a result which was, in any case, much better than the competitors’ results. Rollier added that Michelin wants to intensify its passenger car tyre engagement in the European high performance sector and to improve its position in the winter tyre segment. Both segments meanwhile have become attractive markets. In the USA Michelin has been able to win market share and has exchanged 2.6 million tyres during the Firestone recall.
The long-awaited discussion paper on a possible producer responsibility model for used tyres has been published by the Department of Trade and Industry. This seeks comments on possible statutory Producer Responsibility requirements on used tyres as a consequence of the Council Directive 1993/31/EC on landfill of waste. Comments must be made in writing by the 12th July 2002, and sent to the relevant addresses given in the discussion document. Copies are available from:-Paul Hallett, DTi, Sustainable Development Directorate, Bay 426, 151 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9SS, or can be downloaded from www.dti.gov.uk in PDF format. This document will affect everybody in the tyre business, ensure you have your say in its preparation by at least reading this document.
A Federal Judge has refused an application by Ford and Firestone to dismiss 121 cases brought against the companies where the cases involved accidents in Venezuela and Columbia. Judge Barker ruled that the defendants had not proven that the cases would get a fair hearing in those countries. The decision is not binding on other courts, but may influence similar cases being brought elsewhere in the USA. Firestone was “extremely disappointed” by the ruling, and Ford said it was “unprecedented”. Both defendants are likely to appeal the case.
The latest J.D. Power customer survey concerns heavy truck tyres as original equipment. Respondents rated tyres for safety, durability, tread life and overall value. Michelin came out on top, closely followed by Bridgestone, although Bridgestone customers reported the fewest problems per 100 tyres. According to the report, the biggest problems associated with tyres are excessive or uneven tread wear and blowouts.
Based in Rio Saliceto, about 20 miles west of Modena, Italy, Butler Engineering & Marketing originated in 1998. It started as an entrepreneurial venture by a few people with a common vision to change the way tyres were fitted, bringing into line the technical developments of the tyre, wheel and automotive industries.The first four years were dedicated to product development and contacts with the main customers were established. Then, in 1993 and 1994 the network of agents was brought up to a satisfactory level, according to the company’s potential in terms of manufacturing capability.It was in late 1994 that the growth boom started. The company now employs 70 professionals. Turnover in 1995 doubled, while in 1996 another increase of approximately 50% was achieved. Since then a steady increase in turnover and output has occurred.Butler specialises in manufacturing tyre changers, which are very original and innovative in terms of design, construction and operation. All Butler tyre changers can easily be identified because of their special features; in fact, they have a unique ergonomical design and are almost all powered by compressed air. Power and comfortable controls allow an effortless and effective operation, even with the toughest and most delicate tyre-rim combinations.All parts of the machine touching the wheel or tyre are made of plastic or rubber, to avoid any kind of damage. For instance, an exclusive and patented mount/demount head, made from synthetic material, is always in touch with the rim edge, thus reducing considerably the stress generated during a mounting or demounting operation.The Butler range of equipment also includes a complete series of electronic wheel balancers, made according to the latest technology, eg the ADI (Automatic Data Input). Butler has established a mutual cooperation with the R&D departments of important car, tyre and wheel manufacturers, which are using Butler tyre changers to test the mountability of the most advanced tyre/rim combinations.Approvals or agreements have been signed with Mercedes, Porsche, Bridgestone/Firestone, Dunlop, Continental and others. BBS and Lorinser are promoting the Butler Airdraulic to all their wheel dealers. At the assembly plants of Ferrari, Porsche, M5, Audi 8, Fiat and others, the first equipment tyres are mounted with Butler Airdraulic tyre changers.Technical improvements are not focused just on machines, but also on tools like the so-called ‘HM’ (Half Moon) tyre bead lever, which dramatically improves the operator’s comfort and efficiency.A consumer’s video has been produced to increase the knowledge and skill of operators on handling the toughest and most delicate low profile tyres and aluminium rims with the Butler Airdraulic tyre changer. “The Butler Passport to Higher Performance” is an important contribution to spreading knowledge on how to handle rims and tyres.It is a manual containing general and specific information about rims, tyres and the proper way to handle them. Also it includes a section related to the use of Butler tyre changers. This manual is available on the Butler home page www.butler.it where other interesting information can be found.
A fire at a 145 acre tyre dump in Virginia has created a State of Emergency. This allows State resources to be used to contain the fire in a dump estimated to hold over 4 million waste tyres. Authorities expect to let the fire burn out and say it may take months to combust all the waste. The operator was fined for the illegal dump over a decade ago, but nothing could be done to force him to clear the waste heap.