Four years ago: In an interview at the Geneva Autoshow, Sam Gibara put forward his views. Goodyear had, according to him, the best people, the best distribution, the most cost-effective plants, the best products and – with its innovative EMT tyres – a three-year lead over its competitors. Within three years, he predicted, 75% of Goodyear tyres produced would be EMT tyres (in 2002, the actual figure was one million tyres). The IMPACT production process (Integrated Manufacturing Precision Assembled Cellular Technology) was held up as a revolutionary advance, guaranteeing predominance over the competition and an example of Goodyear’s technical leadership.
The Akron Beacon Journal (ABJ) reports that Goodyear plans to cut 15 per cent of its North American tyre production capacity and move production to low cost centre countries. The source was an internal company newsletter distributed to employees on Wednesday.
Bosal UK has become the first of Bosal’s European manufacturing group to achieve the prestigious ISO14001 environmental management system (EMS) accreditation. In order to qualify for the standard, Bosal adapted many of its operational processes to reduce the Company’s impact on the environment.
Michelin and Hankook have signed a partnership agreement, involving co-operation in R&D, manufacturing and distribution. Hankook will be licensed to produce Michelin’s PAX run-flat technology as part of the agreement. Michelin will take a 10 per cent stake in the Korean company, which, based on the share price when the deal was signed, is estimated to be worth just over US$ 33 million. Shares in Hankook rose almost five per cent on the news, nearly four times better than the market in general.
Nokian has launched the Hakkapeliitta 4, a new studded, winter tyre, for the Nordic and Russian markets. The tyre incorporates new stud technology, called Nokian Eco Stud System 4, which has a patent pending. In addition, the tread compound incorporates rape seed oil, which Nokian says improves grip properties.
Michelin’s Energy range of tyres was named “Eco Product Of The Year” at the Fleet Excellence Awards, held in London in January. The tyres polled over 25 per cent of the votes in the category, with votes coming from readers of EcoFleet, Fleet Week and Fleet Management magazines.
Pirelli has introduced a sophisticated tyre pressure monitoring system for the aftermarket, aimed at cars, light vans, SUVs and light trucks. Called “X-Pressure”, the system is easy to install, says Pirelli, and is approved for use in the USA and Europe. It uses wireless technology to transmit inflation pressure and temperature data from transmitters in each wheel to an in-cabin receiver/display module. The system has implications for both safety and tyre life, plus it offers a simple solution for those motorists wishing to fit run-flat tyres, where a pressure monitoring system is essential.
Kwik-Fit Fleet has appointed Naithan Keeping as its first dedicated European account manager to work with major pan-European fleets. He joined the group in 2001 as fleet sales director of FTM and officially takes up his new appointment on April 1st, reporting to Kwik-Fit Fleet sales director Mike Wise.
Fiat’s honorary chairman, Gianni Agnelli, has died in Turin after an illness lasting some months. He was 81 and was chairman of the Fiat group for 30 years before stepping down in 1996. His successor has not been named, but industry experts expect either his younger brother Umberto Agnelli or grandson John Philip Elkann to take the helm.
In Hanover, Continental has signed an agreement, making the company an official partner of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, which will be held in Germany. The agreement was signed by Manfred Wennemer, Chairman of Continental’s Executive Board, and Joseph Blatter, President of FIFA. Other guests at the ceremony included footballing legend and president of the 2006 organising committee Franz Beckenbauer.
Mere days after sacking 700 workers, Goodyear has elected Susan E. Arnold to its Board of Directors. Arnold is president of Procter & Gamble’s global personal beauty and feminine care business, worth around $8 billion, and is regarded as a high flyer in the business world. Goodyear Chairman Sam Gibara praised Arnold’s “distinguished track record in marketing strategy, product development and leadership.” Her appointment brings the number of board members to 13.
ArvinMeritor is to close its light vehicle systems aperture plant in Tennessee as part of on-going cost-cutting efforts and a response to excess capacity. The work of the factory – the production of window regulators and sunroof systems – will be transferred to other group facilities and 317 jobs will be lost in the closure, which will happen by August.
The Chinese car market is expected to grow by 20 per cent this year. Last year sales rose by 30 per cent and the total is expected to reach 4.6 million units by the year 2005. Experts say that China will continue to be the fastest-growing car market in the world this year.
Business newspapers in France and England are commenting on a paper from the french analysts Gaetan Toulemonde and Alexis Boyer both from DB Global Equities are recommending Michelin shares as a clear “buy”. The share price – at about 31 Euros at present – has, according to the analysts, the potential to rise to 50 Euros within 12 months. Michelin is seen by them as “the BMW in the tyre industry” with strong brands and an excellent brand strategy. It is expected that Michelin will announce in a press conference at the end of February a turnover for 2002 of about 15.7 bn Euro and an operating profit of 1.1 bn Euro. For this year the company is aiming for a turnover of more than 17 bn Euro and an operating profit of more than 1.2 bn Euro. The stock capitalisation at present is 4.6 bn Euro.
Fiat has warned that its auto division will report a loss of around 187 million Euros for the fourth quarter. Previously the company had predicted a break-even for 4Q, while analysts were forecasting a loss of 35 million Euros. If the estimate is correct, Fiat Auto’s loss for the year 2002 will be 1.4 billion Euros. The company has sold assets in an attempt to improve its financial position, including its 5 per cent stake in General Motors, bought by Merrill Lynch for US$ 1.16 billion.