The Toyota Motor Corporation is negotiating with Yokohama Rubber Company Limited and Toyo Tire & Rubber Company Limited with the intention of producing tyres, using a new manufacturing process that the car maker has totally funded.
Since 1999 the trend in car sales in Europe is downwards. If one million cars are sold a year, that is five million tyres which will not supplied as original equipment. But luxury and premium class cars, sporty cars and luxury SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) were not included in the negative trend and in some niches sales even rose. High performance vehicles need high performance tyres. Whereas standard tyres with a T speed rating have lost market share over recent years, tyres with speed ratings H and higher have increased market share. The average horse power of the car parc in Europe is rising year by year. People talk about fuel saving cars, but buy more and more vehicles with more powerful engines.Within the car tyre segment, the sub segment of high performance (hp) and even ultra high performance (uhp) tyres is growing; this part of the market is very dynamic. But changes are on the horizon: until now the flood of newly introduced upper class cars made it necessary to fit hp or uhp tyres, but now this market seems to be saturated. On the other hand more and more middle class and even compact cars have engines allowing top speeds of more than 200 km/h – and also need this type of tyres.And the higher the car segment, the longer the cars “live”. Now all these cars introduced in the 90s need replacement tyres. In the year 2000 in Europe 19 percent of all replacement tyres had the speed ratings V/W/Y/Z, in 2005 it will be 33 percent. These cars need high value tyres a second and a third time and this means an optimistic outlook for tyre dealers. Especially if we consider that the ties between drivers and the car dealers will become weaker and weaker year by year. The drivers will no longer buy the tyres from the BMW or Jaguar dealer but from a tyre dealer.In original equipment the demand in hp and uhp tyres will also improve but not as dramatically as in the aftermarket. But there is a new trend which is also positive: more and more cars will be fitted with runflats. And because these tyres are more expensive than “normal” tyres the first introductions happen on upper class vehicles. Most runflats are also hp and uhp tyres because every new invention in car production is offered first in this segment. Remember ABS, ESP or airbags. If a car does not need a fifth tyre because of being fitted with runflats that will be compensated for by a much better-performing (and also more expensive) tyre.
Jamie Ma (28) has been appointed President of Taiwanese tyre manufacturer Federal Corporation. Formerly Executive Vice President, Jamie Ma succeeds De-Ling Ma. Jamie Ma has been instrumental in directing Federal towards the ultra high performance sector and he plans to expand the R&D team, aiming to introduce a new tyre pattern design each year to meet high demand from overseas. As well as Federal Corporation President, Jamie Ma is also Chairman of Federal Tire (Jiangxi) Ltd., in China, where Federal produces the Maxon and Hero tyre brands.
A judge in a US court case has allowed sanctions against Cooper Tire. Two brothers are suing Cooper over the death of their parents in an accident, which they allege was caused by a tread separation. The defendants claim that Cooper destroyed documents relating to production records from 1992, but Cooper says it is uncertain whether the documents were relevant. The judge said that he would allow the plaintiffs to inform the jury of the destruction of the documents, and that they could draw whatever inference they wished. He also awarded attorney’s fees and expenses concerned with the destruction of the documents. Cooper said it would appeal the decision.
Hyundai is considering a joint venture with DaimlerChrysler, said president Kim Dong-jin, and will make a decision by October. DCX would pay US$ 418.5 million in cash and Hyundai would offer its Jeonju plant as part of the j.v. If the deal gets approval, it could go ahead from January next year.
Michelin North America, Inc., Michelin Retread Technologies, Inc., and Bandag, Incorporated, announced that they have reached a settlement in their ongoing litigation. As a result of the agreement all parties have been dismissed from the litigation. Michelin and Bandag have agreed to dismiss all financial claims against all parties. This agreement brings to a close the trial in the United States District Court in Des Moines, Iowa, that began May 13, 2002.
MG Rover will shortly announce that it lost 200 million GBP in 2001 and will miss its break-even target this year because of tough European markets and the continuing strength of sterling. MG Rover sold 171,000 cars last year 14 percent short of the Longbridge plant’s 200,000 capacity. Britain is the only one of the company’s main markets where sales are actually rising.
After 44 years working for the Michelin-Group, Francois Michelin (75) has today officially retired and has handed the helm to his son Edouard (39), who has already been working for the group for 17 years. Edouard Michelin integrated the Uniroyal-Goodrich tyre company, which was acquired by the Michelin group in the early nineties and in this job he obviously developed a feeling for marketing. While Francois Michelin did not like to talk to journalists very much, he raised his voice in political questions regarding the economy when he felt it necessary. During the last 20 years especially Francois Michelin experienced many ups and downs and today he can be very satisfied to leave the board of a company which is in excellent condition and is one of the best earning groups among the big automotive suppliers.
Klaus Mocker has retired after having worked 27 years for the wdk, and Fritz Katzensteiner, who has worked for the wdk since 1978, has taken control.The wdk is the association of the tyre and rubber manufacturers in Germany and includes 86 German enterprises which employ more than 75,000 people and have a turnover of more than 10 bn Euro
In Michigan, used tyre dealer Vernald Cole has been accused of selling recalled Firestone tyres on the wholesale market. The tyres have had the US DOT number removed from the sidewall – in accordance with recall instructions, but experts believe that this could have weakened the tyres. Dealers are then supposed to cut the tyres to make them unusable. Cole, whose slogan is “Cole Tire, the poor man’s friend”, is believed to have sold the tyres in Miami and Mexico. If convicted, he faces fines up to $20,000 and ten years’ imprisonment.
The European Bank For Reconstruction And Development will provide 20 million dollars in funds to Michelin Russian Tyre Manufacturing, giving it a 49 per cent shareholding in the plant at Davydovo. Production at the new facility is expected to reach 2.1 million units by 2005.
The Financial Times has published its list of the world’s 500 largest companies, ranked by market capitalisation. No tyre companies appeared on last year’s list and this year’s includes only one tyre company; Bridgestone. The Japanese manufacturer is listed at number 386, with a market cap of US$ 11.826 billion. It is also ranked the 38th largest company in Japan.
Dunlop Tyres International (formerly Dunlop Africa) has sold off its international products division to Specialised Belting. The price was not revealed. The international products division includes conveyor belt and hose manufacturing and the sale, according to Dunlop CEO Mike Hankinson, follows Dunlop’s decision to concentrate on the core business of tyre manufacturing
Shares in Cooper Tire & Rubber fell dramatically (by as much as 25 per cent at one stage, although they later recovered to 11 per cent down) after reports that someone in the company had shredded documents relating to a personal injury court case against the company. Cooper denies that executives ordered the documents destroyed and blamed “two, low-level, non-management rogue employees” for the destruction of the documents. The case in question results from a fatal accident in 1998. Cooper denies that the tyre in question suffered from a manufacturing defect.
At Cooper Tire’s AGM chairman, president and chief executive officer Thomas A. Dattilo emphasised the successful implementation of the Company’s strategic plan and post-acquisition restructuring. “Investors are recognising our accomplishments and our future opportunities and the improvement in our share price is beginning to reflect that,” he said. Shareholders reelected Edsel D. Dunford and Dennis J. Gormley to new three-year terms as members of the Board and elected John F. Fiedler to his first three-year term as a director.Following the Annual Meeting, the board of directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of 10.5 cents per share on common stock, payable June 28, 2002, to stockholders of record on June 3, 2002.