Industry analysts expect the German automotive sector to recover in the final quarter of this year, having a beneficial impact on tyre suppliers. The high performance tyre market is showing growth of over 20 per cent and the winter tyre market will see double-digit growth. These factors, combined with more favourable raw material prices, should mean an overall growth of seven per cent in the European tyre market, the analysts predict.
Continental Tire North America is to cut production at its plant in Mayfield, Kentucky, by 22 per cent, resulting in the loss of 200 jobs; around 15 per cent of the total workforce. Rising costs, especially so-called “legacy” costs were blamed for the move.
The EU Appeals Court is set to rule on whether Michelin breached EU anti-monopoly rules in the early 1990s. At that time, Michelin offered rebates for retreading and replacing tyres on trucks and buses in France; something that “illegally tied dealers and foreclosed the French market”, the European Commission originally ruled in 2001.
Ford is aiming to lose 1,700 jobs in Europe, by offering voluntary early retirement to workers at two factories in Germany. A similar move is expected at the Ford factory in Gent, Belgium, while workers in the UK have already been offered early retirement.
Kumho Tire has moved up from tenth to ninth position in the list of world tyre manufacturers, published by US magazine Tire Business. With sales of over $1.44 billion last year – a double-digit increase – Kumho overtook Toyo in the world rankings. Tire Business estimates that the top three tyre manufacturers control 60 per cent of the world tyre market, and the top ten account for 80 per cent.
Daewoo-FSO Motor Polska is to slash up to 1,500 jobs in Poland, in a bid to save the company from bankruptcy and to encourage investment in restructuring. The exact number of jobs to be lost will be decided in discussions with unions, but 1,000 workers picketed a meeting of shareholders at the Economy Ministry.
Continental is set to invest 74 million Euro in building a plant on the Barum Continental site in Otrokovice, in the Czech Republic. Expected annual capacity will be three million tyres, mostly high performance products for the OE market. The project will mean the creation of 430 jobs over the next decade and a new company, wholly-owned by Continental, will be incorporated to manage the project.
Tyre manufacturer Bridgestone Corp. released a revised earnings outlook Wednesday containing the impact of the fire at its Tochigi factory, having lowered net and pre-tax profit forecasts for the year ending Dec 31. Bridgestone now expects a group net profit of 78 billion yen against the 80 billion yen the company projected in August when it issued an earnings report for the January-June half.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company will invest 30 million US dollars to ease the debt burden of its Indian arm. The funds would be invested through the external commercial borrowing route in Goodyear India to retire high cost debts in favour of low cost borrowings. “India is an important market for Goodyear. We continue to seek ways to introduce tyre technology,” said Antonio Canallini, chairman and managing director, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, India. The joint venture company Goodyear South Asia Tyres Ltd. has recently augmented production capacity by 25 per cent at its Aurangabad facility.
Goodyear claims to have increased replacement tyre shipments by 4 per cent over the previous year’s level. In August industry shipments of tyres to OE declined by 11 percent, Goodyear’s decline was less than the industry average. However shipments of commercial replacement tyres declined by more than the industry level of 10 per cent. Additionally product mix was unfavourable due to market share gains by Dunlop, Kelly and associated brands. Goodyear shipments of commercial OE tyres fell at the industry rate of 10.5 per cent.
Outside the North American market Goodyear performed well in all other areas with increases in aftermarket car and tyres in every region, but some decline in most markets for commercial vehicle tyres. OE supply varied depending upon the application of the company’s selective OE strategy.
Nine Teams from seven countries will take part at the Fulda Challenge in February 2004 in Canada’s Northwest Yukon Territory – two of the teams come from Great Britain. One team will be Gill Watson/Gary Bullen, who qualified last weekend in Sulden (Italy).
On Saturday 20th September Bridgestone celebrated a podium finish for its rider Makoto Tamada at the Rio De Janerio MotoGP. The Pramac Honda rider produced an immaculate display to claim a thoroughly deserved third place finish marking Bridgestone’s first podium since deciding to enter the premier class at the beginning of 2002. Bridgestone’s ecstatic technicians could barely conceal their delight after watching Tamada cut a swathe through the field in the 24-lap race, run in searing hot temperatures at a sun-drenched Rio de Janeiro.
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has stated that its new labour contract with the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) meets the operational flexibility and cost-savings goals established prior to the negotiations. “Our goal for these negotiations was to achieve what some thought was impossible: a fair agreement that contributed approximately 1 billion dollars in cost savings and cost avoidance over its three-year term without a work stoppage,” said Robert J. Keegan, Goodyear chairman and chief executive officer.
The TIC has gained nationwide publicity for its campaign to have tyres “dated”. A recent press release on the need to dispose of aged tyres has been taken up by the US-based Strategic Safety LLC asking the NHTSA to require tyres to be “expiry marked”
Tire manufacturers responded that the idea may not be realistic since there are so many variables that affect ageing. “It’s not so simple to just slap a date on it,” said Dan Zielinski, a spokesman for the Rubber Manufacturers Association. A statement that flies in the face of the advice given out by the TIC, funded by the tyre industry in the UK, that told consumers “consumers to replace unused tires if they’re older than 6 years and replace all tires older than 10 years.” Zielinski said a discussion of expiration dates would be worthwhile, but said NHTSA shouldn’t act without collecting some solid scientific evidence. Zielinski said tyre manufacturers had concerns that the end users would ignore the “expiry date” or see the move as another rouse to force the consumer to buy more tyres. NHTSA spokesman Rae Tyson said the agency hopes to have a proposal on tyre ageing by June 2005.
Pirelli has opened its new Feira de Santana factory in Bahia, Brazil. With a primary investment that amounts to about 120 million US dollars, the plant has 32,000 square metres of constructed area. The initial daily production is of to 2,500 high performance radial tyres, which will be destined to the domestic and Latin-American markets, as well as the American and European ones. In 2005, when the factory will be at full operating capacity, approximately 7,500 tyres will be manufactured a day. On a second phase, investments of more than 80 million US dollars are already proposed, which will allow the increase of the capacity of production to 13 thousand tyres a day.