Goodyear (Thailand) Ltd. has been granted the contract to be the exclusive supplier of high performance tyres to Mercedes for the Asean countries. Around 15,000 tyres will be supplied monthly from August, when the contract begins – any specific tyre sizes not made by the Thai company will be sourced from Goodyear plants in other Asean countries. The contract is part of Mercedes-Benz’s plans to simplify procurement.
Bridgestone Corporation says that sales and earnings for the first six months will be substantially higher than previously forecast. Net income will be around 29 billion Yen (US$ 241.4 m) or 32 per cent higher than announced in February. Net income for the year as a whole is expected to be 77 billion Yen (US$ 641 m), 10 per cent higher than the earlier forecast. Reasons given for the increase are stronger than expected sales growth, better than forecast performances in Europe and the USA and the strengthening of the Euro.
The three-month-old talks in the USA between Goodyear and the United Steelworkers of America to try and thrash out a new labour contract have collapsed. The USWA rejected proposals from Goodyear and remains resolutely opposed to plant closures and job losses. The ending of the talks, allied to the fact that no further talks have been scheduled, brings the spectre of a strike at Goodyear’s US plants that little bit closer.
Pakistan’s largest tyre manufacturer, General Tyre & Rubber Co. of Pakistan, is to expand annual production by 30 per cent, from one million tyres to 1.3 million, with an investment of 500 million Rupees ($8.65 million). 50 per cent of General’s sales are OE (cars and trucks), 45 per cent replacement and five per cent to the Government. The company also exports tyres with a value of US$700,000, which is expected to rise to US$ 1 million this year. 31 per cent of Pakistan’s tyre demand is met by domestic producers, 53 per cent by imports and the remaining 16 per cent by smuggled truck tyres.
OE manufacturer readers of the magazine “Automotive Industries” have voted for their top suppliers. More than 1,000 replied and a list of the “Ai Fab Fifty” has been compiled. Tyre manufacturers in the list are Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., Goodyear and Michelin North America Inc. Other companies which will be familiar to our readers include Continental Teves, Hayes Lemmerz and ArvinMeritor Inc. Of the companies mentioned, ArvinMeritor was the only one to make the top ten list.
Fiat has released details of its latest restructuring plan and, as expected, 12,300 jobs will be lost as a result, with 12 of the company’s 138 plants worldwide being closed. Many of the job cuts will be outside Italy, mainly at Case New Holland and Iveco factories. Fiat also announced an increase in R&D spending and new products of 17 billion Euros, plus a plan to increase capital with a 1.8 billion Euros rights issue.
Indian tyre company Birla Tyres has made an arrangement with Pirelli to sell 10,000 radial tyres a month. When asked how long the arrangement was for, Chairman B. K. Birla said that he hoped Pirelli would pick up one lakh tyres (100,000) a year.
The latest Euro NCAP crash test results name the Renault Espace as the highest-scoring vehicle ever tested, rating the maximum five stars for occupant protection and two stars (maximum of four) for pedestrian protection. By contrast, another MPV – the Kia Sedona (also called the Carnival) – was described as “the worst performing vehicle tested by NCAP over the past two years”, rating two stars (occupant) and one star (pedestrian).
In the USA, Michelin is to introduce a new Uniroyal light truck/SUV tyre this September, which carries a 60,000 mile treadwear warranty. Called the Laredo Cross Country, the new tyre will be available in 14 sizes to fit both US-made and imported vehicles.
A jury in Denver has found Goodyear Tire & Rubber liable for $4 million for defective rubber hoses used in home heating systems. A bankrupt heating systems designer – Chiles Power Supply – was found equally responsible. It was alleged that Goodyear’s Entran II hoses (now discontinued) deteriorated and leaked, causing flooding and damage and the jury found in favour of 34 homeowners. Goodyear intends to appeal the decision.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has revealed details of the new tests that tyres for passenger cars and light trucks will have to undergo by 2007. The program includes speed and endurance tests, plus a test with the tyre under-inflated. The NHTSA reckons that most tyres will reach the new standards, with something between five and eleven per cent of tyres having to be re-designed. These are the first new standards since 1967 and were prompted by the Firestone recall. The NHTSA estimates that the cost to manufacturers will be $31.6 million.
Goodyear’s Eagle F1 GS D3 performance radial has performed well in a survey of customers conducted by US mail order company Tire Rack. The tyre scored 9.4 out of 10 in the “repurchase” category, compared to the next highest score of 8.6. Tire Rack also tested the tyres against Michelin and Bridgestone in both wet and dry conditions and found that, although dry performance was comparable, the Goodyear tyre achieved the best lap times in the wet.
Car parts producer Visteon is moving its Asian HQ from Tokyo to Shanghai in order to capitalise on the growth in demand for vehicles in China. Visteon has five joint ventures in China, all supplying the domestic industry, and last year they turned over $550 million, compared with $350 million from Japan.
The recently-launched Lamborghini Gallardo will be fitted exclusively with Pirelli P Zero Rosso tyres as original equipment, maintaining a 40-year partnership between the two companies. Tyre sizes are 235/35 ZR 19 (front) and 290/30 ZR 19 (rear).
Pirelli has picked up a prestigious advertising award in the USA for its “Fist” campaign, where four tyres are shown merging into a fist. The accolade is a gold “ADDY” award for international consumer press advertising and was given at the recent American Advertising Federation (AAF) awards presentation. With 60,000 entries, the competition claims to be the world’s largest and this year was opened up to international entries for the first time.