During 2006 Manchester-based MWS Distribution, which supplies the CV market through aftermarket and OEM divisions, launched into Europe with both its established steel range and new Xlite forged alloy products. Reckoning on the current demand for CV wheels trailing behind the rest of the market’s ability to supply, arising from Euro4 demand for new vehicles, managing director John Ellis has is forecasting an increase in sales from Europe up towards 2 million this year. This sales breakthrough came from marketing support with DTI’s Passport to Export, and recruitment since 2005 of French, German and Spanish speakers to the company’s sales staff.
Launching Xlite at last year’s Hanover IAA exhibition, MWS claims it has found OEMs seeking alternative sources for forged alloy wheels. First among these is France’s trailer manufacturer Benalu, which will be trialling Xlite on their new Siderale 78 trailer at Solutrans in Lyon (April 2007).
Michelin is reportedly preparing to spend US$300 million expanding its tyre production facilities in China. The French tyremaker has signed agreements with officials from the Liaonong (northeast China) provincial government related to new truck and passenger car tyre projects.
When the two projects are implemented, the company’s existing base in Shenyang, the capital city of Liaoning, will become the world’s largest tyre production base.
(Akron/Tire Review) RMA predicts that 2007 tread rubber shipments will be up 2.3 per cent from 2006.
Sales of retreaded medium truck tyres fell some 4 per cent in 2006 versus the year prior, a decline driven primarily by heavy purchases of new tractors ahead of implementation of new diesel emissions regulations.
RMA said the predicted increase represents some 230,000 retreaded tyres, covering all market segments, and said the anticipated increases will come primarily in the OTR and truck tyre segments, where replacement market sales are expected to be up slightly.
The latest rubber consumption data from India suggest that high natural rubber prices are causing tyremakers to increase the percentage of synthetic rubber used in their products. Statistics for the period between April and December 2006, in comparison to the same months the previous year, show a 15 per cent growth in synthetic rubber consumption. This contrasts with the much smaller 2.35 increase in the consumption of natural rubber recorded during the same period.
In Europe, the established natural rubber/synthetic rubber ratio is 80:20. This is mainly due to the superior vulcanising qualities of natural rubber, an important consideration in truck and OTR tyres. Indian tyre manufacturers have previously reported that their optimum natural/synthetic rubber ratio is 78:22, but in recent months it appears that this ratio has been stretched to 70:30, about the maximum technically feasible.
Employees at Cooper Tire’s factory in Texarkana, Arkansas have been notified that the layoffs anticipated since their initial announcement last year will begin this May. Letters stating that the layoffs will take place on May 26 have been distributed to plant workers.
In September 2006 Cooper Tire announced it planned to convert the factory into a ‘flex plant’, at the expense of at least 400 jobs. However company officials now believe the layoffs may not be so extensive due to recent market changes and attrition at the plant.
Sameer Africa recently announced that it had accrued 22 million Kenyan shillings (£164,000) of losses after sales were hit by a sudden influx low price imported tyres. Speaking during the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the firm’s Mombasa Road Plant, Sameer Africa Board Chairman Naushad Merali said the sales nosedive of locally manufactured tyres followed the reduction of imported tyre tariffs from 35 to 10 per cent. Merali however noted that the fact Bridgestone has not withdrawn its 14.5 per cent share-holding in the company was a sign of Bridgestone’s confidence in Sameer Africa’s potential.
According to local news sources, Sameer has made “strategic alliances” with other international tyre manufacturers to increase its product offering in the regional market. The Kenya times reported that this includes off-take agreements with brands such as Bridgestone, Dunlop South Africa and Hankook.
Automotive ignition and electronics specialist Beru AG has reported that its Group revenues increased by 7.1 per cent to 439 million euros during the year to December 31, 2006. The company’s newest division, Electronics and Sensor Technology – under which the Beru Tire Safety System (TSS) is produced – posted substantial revenue growth during the year, with Group EBT totalling 53.5 million euros in 2006, as apposed to 32 million a year earlier. Net profit after minority interest increased to 43 million euros, compared with 19.5 million in the nine-month period of short financial year 2005 (April 1 – December 31, 2005). Earnings per share amounted to 4.30 euros.
The division achieved BERU’s strongest growth rate of 31.6 per cent with sales revenues of 135.8 million euros. This was primarily a result of revenues from sales of tyre pressure monitoring systems, which more than doubled from 21.9 million euros to 46.5 million euros.
Elite has gone out of its to make the purchasing of wheels a pleasant experience. At its conveniently located 20,000 sq. ft premises on the A1306 near Rainham and Dagenham in Essex, the company not only has a large and well-appointed showroom open to the public, but also a waiting area complete with a café serving hot food and drinks – so waiting for a new set of wheels need not be a tedious event. And while the customer enjoys some refreshment their vehicle is seen to in one of Elite’s 19 fully operational service bays.
The large and modern facility Elite operates today is far removed from the company’s humble beginnings, when partners Steve Eldridge and Sean Soyka opened for business in 1987, operating out of a cramped former car showroom in Hornchurch, just a couple of miles from the company’s present position. Today the company specialises in wheels and tyres for passenger cars, 4×4 vehicles and light commercials, but also stocks exhausts, shock absorbers, suspension kits, and brakes amongst other items.
Attending the Geneva Motor Show is a great opportunity to see the newest vehicles around close-up, not to mention a good chance to check-out which tyres car manufacturers are brandishing on the latest concepts and releases. So when, after visiting the motor show, Tyres & Accessories was given the opportunity to drive a beautiful Ferrari F430 from Geneva back to London on Pirelli Sotto Zero cold weather tyres, we jumped at the chance.
Put the car through its paces, they said. Drive it on snow and take the tyres to the limit, they said. And we would have done, had there have been any. But in March even the Alps are short on snow and ice. There were, however, plenty of mountain roads; more than a sprinkle of rain; and cold temperatures consistently below seven degrees. So while the sight of the F430 sports coupe sticking to sheet ice was out of the question, driving on wet “snow-chain only” Alpine roads in March was definitely on the menu. And the truth is these conditions are probably more akin to what the drivers experience during the majority of the cold weather season.
Coker Tire, the world’s largest supplier of collector vehicle tyres, is promoting the availability of its new BFGoodrich Silvertown Blackwall. Recognized as a great choice for fitment on street rods, hot rods, customs or quality restorations, these tyres are said to deliver a street-mean look coupled with modern reliability, safety and comfort.
Coker’s new BFGoodrich 285/70R15 Silvertown Blackwall is S-Speed rated and features the popular V-Block tread pattern to maintain an authentic, timeless look. At 30.75-inches in diameter, with a cross-section of 11.5 inches and a tread width of 8.60 inches, the Silvertown Blackwall delivers a wide and tall, aggressive stance, making it easy to achieve a “natural rake” on hot rods and customs when matched up with a smaller front tire in a Big-Little Combo.
Pirelli Tire North America has reorganized its sales and marketing organization. The announcement coincides with the news that Peter Tyson, VP Communications and Motor Sport, Pierluigi Dinelli, Director of Marketing, and Giovanni Ricci, Supply Chain and Pricing will return to management positions in Europe.
The Pirelli North American sales and marketing effort has been re-organized, largely by promotion from within its existing team. Dan O’Shaughnessy is promoted to the newly created position of Regional Sales Director, reporting to Riccardo Cichi, Vice President Sales. He will be responsible for all regional sales and all Pirelli’s Regional Sales Managers will report to him.
Cement manufacturer Cemex began burning shredded tyres as a fuel at their Rugby facility on March 29, following being granted the final required clearance to do so. The company’s decision to use a tyre-based fuel has been controversial, with local action groups fighting to block such a move. The group ‘Rugby in Plume’ has even sought to petition the House of Lords, claiming that the burning of tyres will release fumes that are dangerous to the public – despite Environment Agency findings to the contrary.
Industrial automation control and information solutions specialist Rockwell Automation has named John Genovesi vice president of its automotive, tyre and rubber industry initiative. In his new role, Genovesi will lead the company’s global sales efforts directed at helping tyremakers, as well as those in the automotive, component and rubber manufacturing industries, compete on a global basis.
Regarding his new role, Genovesi commented: “With the automotive, tyre and rubber industries facing some of the most challenging market conditions ever, partnering with a knowledgeable automation supplier has become increasingly important. With years of successful automotive, tyre and rubber industry experience, Rockwell Automation has helped many of today’s leading manufacturers optimize production processes, improve uptime and identify new opportunities for operational efficiency. I look forward to helping manufacturers grow their businesses in this evolving industry.”
Indian tyre manufacturers are expected to experience a difficult quarter in Q4 2007, the Business Standard has reported. According to the report “spot rubber prices in this quarter till date have averaged 95 rupees per kg levels as compared to an average price of 78.4 rupees per kg in same period last year.” Higher rubber prices this year are attributed to unfavourable weather conditions in key South East Asian producing countries, coupled with buoyant demand conditions from China, say analysts. As a result tyre stocks are said to have under-performed since the beginning of the quarter. Apollo Tyres is said to have 25 per cent during this period compared to a 7.6 per cent fall in the Sensex exchange. MRF also declined 24 per cent during this period.
Bridgestone is currently selling 25,000 tyres annually in the Serbian and Montenegrin markets, local news sources have reported. This figure was revealed by the company’s country manager for Serbia Goran Kočovski, who added that the sales of truck and passenger vehicle tyres were at equal levels. According to one local newspaper, Bridgestone holds a 10 per cent share of Serbia’s truck tyre market, and plans to double the sales in five years’ time. The company is reportedly aiming to increase passenger car sales 20 to 30 per cent a year in the area.