The prices increases announced by a number of leading manufacturers are good news for their share prices, say market analysts Deutsche Bank. Bridgestone/ Firestone announced a 5 per cent across the board price increase for passenger car and light truck tyres in North America, effective 1 January 2005, with heavy truck tyre prices set to increase by 7 per cent. According to the analysts, this news is particularly significant because BFS was one of two companies (along with Michelin) that did not raise prices during the last round of price hikes that were rolled out by Goodyear, Cooper Tire, Continental and others in October. This means that “most tyre companies will elect to raise prices once again in early 2005, and that price increases will mitigate higher raw material costs,” says Deutsche Bank.
SmarTire Systems has announced that it has been granted a US patent protecting its multi-mount TPMS installation technology. For SmarTire, the system is of major strategic importance. The company sees the patent as a solid way of securing its competitive position.
“The multi-mount technology enables a common sensor to be used to satisfy a variety of vehicle platforms using different mounting methods such as strap, valve or bonded,” says Kian Sheikh-Bahaie, senior mechanical designer at SmarTire. “This technology offers a number of benefits including a single solution regardless of wheel design and the ability to use aftermarket wheels without disabling the original TPMS. Smaller automakers can also take advantage of the economies of scale and speed to market by enabling them to use a common sensor.”
“This patent represents a significant milestone as it expands SmarTire’s intellectual property portfolio at a critical time in the development of the TPMS industry,” says Robert Rudman, president and CEO of SmarTire. “Now that the Tread Act has been finalised in the US and the automakers are now required to install tyre monitoring in their vehicles, one crucial issue that has not been adequately addressed by the industry is the installation and servicing of TPMS. SmarTire has developed and now patented a unique sensor mounting technology that satisfies the diverse implications that arise during installation and servicing of the system over the life of the vehicle.”
Bridgestone Corporation today announced that it has entered into an agreement with The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company to purchase 95 per cent of the American company’s stake in Goodyear Sumatra Plantations (GSP). Terms of the pending purchase have not been disclosed.
GSP, which began operations in 1917, is one of the largest natural rubber estates in North Sumatra Indonesia. Its activities include the planting, growing, tapping and processing of natural rubber. GSP has approximately 18,000 total hectares (47,000 total acres) with approximately 5,000 employees.
Bridgestone said its acquisition of GSP is part of its aim to secure a stable supply of natural rubber and to increase its research and development in this area. The group supplies some of its own demand for steel cord, synthetic rubber and natural rubber, as well as carbon black.
Bridgestone Firestone North America and Bridgestone/Firestone Canada have jointly announced price increases. Prices are due to increase by 5 per cent on passenger and light truck tyres, 7 per cent on truck and bus tyres and 10 per cent or more on agricultural and off-the-road tyres. The companies say the increases will affect Bridgestone, Firestone, Dayton, associate and private brand tyres and will come into effect from 1 January 2005.
According to Mark Emkes, CEO and chairman of Bridgestone Americas Holding, parent company of BFNT and BFCA, “Our tyre companies are facing an unprecedented continuation of rising raw material prices on a number of different fronts. From steel to petroleum to rubber chemicals, we have seen cost increases that simply can not be offset by the increases in efficiencies and productivity that we have implemented at all levels of our company. The action we announced today is a necessary step in addressing these escalating costs.”
Goodyear runflats have been selected for fitment on the new Rolls Royce Phantoms. The company claims its runflat technology offers this luxury vehicle “the highest possible tyre safety available on the market.” Goodyear will produce the Eagle NCT 5 EMT for the Rolls-Royce Phantom in its plant in Fulda, Germany available in 255/50 R21 (front) and 285/45 R21 (rear) sizes. At six metres long, weighing almost 2.5 tons and with a 460 PS V12 engine capable of accelerating the car in 5.9 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h, the elegant Rolls Royce Phantom is one of the world’s most luxurious cars.
Goodyear also supplies runflats for the Cadillac CTS-V high-performance luxury saloon, and 2005 Corvette.
Michelin’s Formula 1 boss, Pascal Vasselon, has changed jobs into serial tyre production. The move is an apparent reaction to the fact that Michelin has failed to achieve a world championship in four years of commitment, online news portal F1total.com reports.
It has not yet been decided who will be the 41 year old’s successor. The exact reasons for Mr Vasselon’s displacement also remain unclear, as he was generally regarded as an integral and highly esteemed part of Michelin’s Formula 1 team.
The SMMT is reporting that in the first 10 months of 2004 UK new car production has dropped one per cent, while production for export has risen 3.5 per cent in the same space of time. Octobers output in isolation reveals a decrease in production levels of 11.9 per cent, according to provisional data released by the office of national statistics.
“Despite a dip in October car production, levels over the year to October show that we remain on a par with last year. UK automotive manufacturing has a bright future. SMMT’s second annual issues survey of senior executives, to be published at the SMMT Annual Dinner, will show that we have much to be proud of. With the right skills in the workforce, an increase in R&D and a cautious approach to the introduction of new regulation by government, the industry has a very positive future,” commented SMMT chief executive, Christopher Macgowan.
At the same time the SMMT reports that commercial vehicle (CV) production went up 11.3 per cent in October and 14 per cent year-to-date. CV export production levels rose by 27.5 per cent over the year to October. Rolling 12 month totals to October show that production is up 25,228 units to 210,322.
“The growth in commercial vehicle assembly remains robust. Over the most recent three months to October, production has risen 21.4 per cent, with 38.2 per cent for the export market. UK plants are keyed-in to a firm revival in demand for vans and trucks in the rest of the EC. Annual volume has now topped 210,000 units and with two months to go to complete the calendar year, it will probably nudge further ahead,” added Mr Macgowan.
Pirelli’s real estate business unit, UniCredito Italiano SpA and Morgan Stanley have founded a real estate joint venture. The partnership will manage real estate with a total value of more than a billion euros, UniCredito said on Friday. UniCredito will sell real estate worth 300 million euros to the joint venture, while Pirelli and Morgan Stanley will transfer 750 million euros of assets to the joint venture. Together the two companies will control 85 per cent of the shares. UniCredito will hold the remaining 15 per cent.
In its recently published third quarter results, Alliance Tire has announced a net profit of $102,000 for the third quarter of 2004, compared with a net loss of $1.66 million in the corresponding period last year. Although this period represents the company’s third successive profitable quarter, quarter-on-quarter figures show a slight drop in growth.
Compared to 2003, Alliance reports that sales grew 26.3 per cent to $29.7 million. In the second quarter Alliance’s sales totalled $31.6 million. The company’s export figures continue to show impressive levels of growth. Alliance’s export sales grew by 37 per cent to $21.8 million compared with the same time last year. Agricultural, multi-purpose and industrial tyres for export make up approximately 75 per cent of Alliance’s export. Local market sales increased 4 per cent to $7.9 million, a figure that represents 27 per cent of total sales.
In the first nine months of 2004, the tyre manufacturer reports that net profits grew to $3.7 million compared with losses of $8.3 million in the corresponding quarter of last year. In the same period, sales increased to $93.4m, an increase of 29 per cent compared with the corresponding period in 2003.
Alliance chairman Isia Tchetchik said the third quarter growth was hindered by the port strike that prevented sales of $1.9 million. Despite this, he said, the company managed to achieve positive results that prove that Alliance is experiencing an improvement in business performance.
Joseph Anglister, Alliance’s president, said the break-through in sales to Central and South America continued in the third quarter, in particularly in Brazil where sales doubled to $5.1 million in the first nine months of the year. The company president also stated that Alliance continues to implement efficiency measures, something that likely to prove useful in the face of rising raw material costs. According to Mr Anglister, production costs per ton of output fell 2.5 per cent to $2.38 per ton, while production increased 19.4 per cent, to 27,527 in the third quarter of 2004.
Dunlop Tyres have published a new website which features articles of motorsports greatest charcters, including Sir Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell and Sir Stirling Moss. The ‘Drivers Know’ site also provides features on the jazz generation, as well as new design technology looking at Dunlop’s RunFlat tyres and the ultra-high performance tyre, SP Sport Maxx.
Visitors to the site will also get a chance to take a break at Café Dunlop. Here there are reviews on great reads for the passionate driver, the best driving films ever made and the ideal musical accompaniment to the perfect drive. Take a look at the design icons gallery or enter the forum for your say. There are also competitions to win your dream drive or the chance to win the ultimate jazz collection.
Commenting on their most recent part of the company’s publicity drive, Geraldine McGovern, Dunlop brand manager said: “The blend of articles and features on the site were all provided by people in the know. The intelligent premium content from motorsport to lifestyle features delivers Dunlop’s Drivers Know proposition online”
As supplier to both champion and more run-of-the-mill teams, Bridgestone is in an unusual position. The Bridgestone shod Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello may be perpetually on the podium, but Jordan and Minardi ‘s drivers are a long way off. Michelin, on the other hand, seems to supply everybody in between including race contenders.
Bridgestone’s, technical director, Hisao Suganuma, admitted to F1racing.net that only having Ferrari and Jordan and Minardi is disadvantage. “With the new regulations, we have to do a lot of testing. Next year we cannot change tyres in the race anymore, so we have to make a different type of tyre. We need to do a lot of long distance runs and that is difficult. Sauber went to our competitor Michelin, but we have to live with that.”
Meanwhile, Ferrari has a new test driver in Marc Gené who previously worked for Williams and therefore with Michelin tyres. Mr Suganuma is keen to hear about some of Michelin’s secrets. “We really are looking forward to our chat. I am not sure if [Marc Gené] will tell us everything he knows about Michelin, but of course I am hoping he will,” Mr Suganuma told the website.
Five more companies, including Michelin Tyres Plc, have joined the Tyre Recovery (TRA) association. This raises membership to a total of 25 companies.
Commenting on the company’s association membership a Michelin spokesperson stated: “As members of the BRMA we are encouraged by the response of the Tyre Recovery Association and its members to the challenge of helping Government meet the EU Landfill Directive. Like a number of other BRMA companies we feel we must show more than just financial support and take an active role in the new body. Our own recycling volumes are considerable and will make a significant contribution to the overall audited figures of the group, as well as demonstrating our positive environmental credentials.”
In addition to Michelin, Cardiff Recycling, Creigiau Tyres, Re-Tyre and Western Tyres joined the TRA.
Kingsway Tyres has helped raise more than £4,500 for Children in Need. The dealership worked with a local ASDA store and some television celebrities providing a day of fund-raising activity in Corby, Northamptonshire. The celebrities, including TV chef Rusty Lee and presenter Paul Ross, competed in a series of challenges ranging from leg waxing to competing for the best lap time in a motor racing simulator, provided by Kingsway Tyres’ parent company Bridgestone UK.
“It was a very successful event,” said Bruce Cleghorn, area manager at Kingsway Tyres. “It felt good to aid the Children in Need cause, and everyone had a fun day out too. “Not only were the celebrities that took part in the event very generous to give up their time, but also the general public proved to be very charitable as more than £350 of the total collected was raised from photos with the car and rides on the simulator,” added Bruce.
The tyre dealership, which has 16 outlets across the East Midlands and East Anglia, also brought a replica Ferrari Formula 1 car to the event, and members of the public were given the chance to have their photos taken with the impressive vehicle and also test their driving skills on the simulator in return for a charity donation.
The plans for next year’s “Tires & Rubber 2005” show in Moscow are currently running at full steam. The exhibition’s organisers expect there to be numerous exhibitors from Russia and abroad, showing their latest product innovations in tyres, wheels and retreading. Apart from domestic tyre manufacturers Sibur, Amtel, Tatneft and Matador-Omskshina many western companies are expected to exhibit and therefore help the show gain an ever more international reputation. The exhibition will be held from 1-4 February 2005, in Moscow’s Expocentr.
Motorsport isn’t just about speedy overtaking manoeuvres and exciting finishes. Instead a major part of its attraction is owed to the people that live for motorsports and who – if missing – would make the event that bit less interesting. Without doubt one of these people is Pierre Dupasquier. For 30 years the Michelin motorsport director has been generally regarded as the driving force behind the French tyre manufacturer’s involvement. In addition, he is one of the few who, although not a driver himself, is allowed to comment on races on TV. Tyres & Accessories had the opportunity to meet the passionate 67 year old Frenchman and talk about the coming season.
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