The 9th annual Challenge Bibendum is only two weeks away, and this year sees the event returning to Shanghai, host city to Challenge Bibendum 2004. The Challenge Bibendum, created by Michelin in 1998, is a concerted effort on the part of vehicle manufacturers, technical partners, energy suppliers and research institutes to provide political and economic decisions makers with insights and understanding into the latest advances in vehicle technology for creating cleaner and more fuel efficient transport options.
Kumho’s European motorsport division has enjoyed considerable success across a range of motorsport series in 2007. Perhaps the highlight of the year was the success of the Le Mans LMP2 class-winning Lola Zytek of Binnie Motorsports. As the car was shod with Kumho Tyres, Binnie’s success represented an historic achievement for the Korean tyre manufacturer, competing at Le Mans for only the third time.
Kumho supported both the Binnie Motorsports entry, comprised of Bill Binnie (US), Allen Timpany (GB) and Chris Buncombe (GB), and the Kruse Motorsport Pescarolo Judd of Tony Burgess (Can), Jean de Pourtales (Fr) and Norbert Siedler (Aut). The Binnie Car won LMP2 outright and finished 18th overall. Sadly the Kruse car did not survive the full 24 hours.
Said Bill Binnie: “We experienced just about every type of weather during the race from dry/warm conditions to torrential rain and used Kumho’s full arsenal of tyres as a result. They all performed admirably and were a key element of our victory.”
Michelin wants the world to know that its energy saving tyres reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions – and on October 30 the French tyre major launched a novel new method of getting its message across. Every evening at 7pm the company will project “Green” meters onto prominent landmarks in four major world cities. These meters will display the estimated fuel savings and reductions in CO2 emissions achieved since 1992, the year Michelin first released low rolling resistance tyres with silica used in part as a substitute for carbon black.
Featuring Bibendum, the iconic Michelin Man, the meters will be projected onto the façade of the Park Inn Hotel in Berlin, the NASDAQ and Reuters boards in New York’s Times Square, the Port de Suffren at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, and on the City Group Mansion tower, across from the Bund, in Shanghai – four cities, says Michelin, whose growth has been driven by the mobility of the goods and people who come and go every day.
Twenty years on from the introduction of mousse-equipped tyres in the WRC, the technology that allows drivers to continue to the end of the stage is to be banned for 2008. However Beru F1 Systems is taking capitalising on the fact that there are no rules against early warning tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).
“The mousse ban means drivers need reliable information about tyre condition and performance to prevent damage to the car,” says Beru F1 Systems’ managing director John Bailey. “Digi Tyre could give them warning about potential safety issues or whether changing the wheel is the best solution.”
New York based company Re-Tread Products Inc. (RTP) has received a patent for a new building material it has developed; this product, known as the “Tire Log”, employs recycled tyres as its core ingredient, and the inherent flexibility in the tyre scrap used to produce the Tire Log is reported to make the product an ideal material for use in earthquake proofing and other safety related building. RTP is currently researching a number of commercial applications to which the Tire Log may be suited.
The “Tire Log” is made using a method that helically wraps a tyre’s steel belted tread around a core of tyre treads. By this means a product of any length or diameter can be produced, and RTP claims its patented design provides a high level of structural integrity. Material properties tests on the Tire Log so far appear to bear out the manufacturer’s confidence that it offers architectural and construction solutions to the civil, municipal and military sectors. The product’s ‘bend not break’ characteristics and its durability make it well suited for use in regions prone to earthquakes and flooding, and it has even been suggested that it could fulfil various “homeland security” roles in the US. More mundane potential uses for the Tire Log include as a wood, rock or concrete substitute in construction and landscaping.
Tanner Foust, driver of the Toyo Proxes R1R shod AEM/Memphis Car Audio/Toyo Tires Nissan 350Z, was crowned the 2007 Formula Drift champion this past weekend during the Formula Drift Championship Finals at Irwindale Speedway in California. Foust entered the final event leading the championship by 23 points, which meant he only needed to finish in third place or better to secure the championship, however he ended the season on a high note by taking first place on the day.
Irwindale Speedway is known to fans as “The House of Drift” and draws capacity crowds for the annual drifting finals. Foust climbed the championship ladder during the final rounds by first defeating Tony Brakahopia in the Top 16. During the Top 8, Foust defeated Ryuji Miki, and then moved on to the Top 4 to defeat Kenji Yamanaka. In the Final, Foust defeated number two ranked Chris Forsberg for both the event win and the 2007 championship.
As Pavle Krstic and Bart Kinneging approach four years of working together as Deldo’s UK sales team, the leading Belgian wholesaler is highlighting the pair’s “very successfully” performance selling tyres in Great Britain and Ireland. With almost 20 years of experience in the UK market they can support and customised advice.
The main tool they have in the very competitive (budget) market is of course the Wanli and Sunny brands. Currently Wanli offers more than 200 car, van, SUV, 4×4 and truck sizes. The new Wanli S1063 is already described as a best seller in the UK and Ireland. In addition the company can offer a wide range of premium names thanks to its unique stock of 2.5 million tyres, with weekly deliveries.
Taiwan’s Samson Machinery Inc., has enjoyed steady growth since its establishment in 1975 by Mr. Lin Kun-Te. During this time the company has acquired a high level of knowledge in the area of tyre manufacturing equipment. This knowledge, along with the experience gained through 32 years in the business, has been instrumental in facilitating the company’s expansion, especially during the last few years. In order to keep pace with customer demand Samson moved into a newer and larger premises in September 2006, and from this new location it continues to provide equipment to customers worldwide.
Today Samson supplies a full range of tyre building machinery suitable for large or small tyre manufacturers engaged in a range of market segments. The company’s main products include: Tyre building machines, band building machines, ply servicers, building drums & related accessories, tyre trimming machinery, green tyre splicing machines, curing presses, and horizontal ply auto cutting & splicing machines. Machinery that is suited to the production of most tyres, including bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, passenger car radial, light truck radial, SUV, truck & bus, industrial and OTR, even aircraft tyres and radial truck tyres can be ordered. Customers can order machinery for bias and radial, semi-steel or all-steel, small and large sizes.
A Supreme Court in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia has ruled in favour of Michelin in a dispute between the tyremaker and a number of retired employees over CA$268 million (£136 million) the retirees believe to be owed to their pension plan. Between 1984 and 1988 and then between 1995 and 2001 Michelin North America (Canada) covered its required annual contribution to the fund using a surplus in the plan. The former employees wanted Michelin to place that money back in the fund, and instigated legal proceedings to force the company to do so.
Known in Europe as the market leader for small tyres, Denmark’s Starco group is currently taking steps to also secure a foothold in Asia. One such step, for example, is Starco’s first time presence at this year’s Tyrexpo Asia, explained Brian Lorentzen. Evidence that the Danish company is pursuing a strong growth strategy can be seen from even a brief look at the company’s annual reports and the development of Starco’s turnover. For example, last year Starco generated a turnover of US$100 million, this year the figure will very likely be 100 million euros. This means that the leading company in the European market for small tyres will experience about 30 per cent growth within just 12 months. Over the last ten years the Starco group has even achieved an increase in its annual turnover by a factor of ten.
Belgian wholesaler Deldo, who in September completed an 8,000 square metre extension of its central warehouse in the port city of Antwerp, has announced plans to further extend the facility. In January the company will begin the work of adding a further 10,000 square metres to its warehouse/storage premises, giving the company a total warehouse space of 70,000 square metres.
The company claims its facility to be the largest in Europe and intends in part to use the increased space to further its stock of winter tyres, thereby improving availability. The company reports it is now able to offer neighbouring countries, such as Germany, a 24/48 hour delivery service.
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has reported record third quarter sales of US$5.1 billion, up 3 per cent from last year. The company’s Asia Pacific Tire, Latin American Tire, European Union Tire, and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa Tire divisions all achieved record sales during the quarter despite Latin America being the only region to actually sell a greater volume of tyres. Goodyear claims it has successfully offset lower volumes through price increases and a richer product mix. These price and product mix changes in all five business units led to a 7 per cent increase in revenue per tyre over the 2006 quarter, and Goodyear adds that the quarter’s lower sales volume – 51.7 million tyres worldwide as opposed to 55.8 million in third quarter 2006 – reflects the company’s strategic decision to quit “certain segments” of the North American private label tyre market, along with other weak markets.
Total segment operating income from continuing operations was $382 million in the third quarter of 2007, another all-time high and up 35 per cent from the 2006 period. All five business units had higher segment operating income compared to last year, with Asia Pacific Tire and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa Tire setting records for any quarter.
All ten of the world’s top ten tyre manufacturers were present in China in some shape or form by 2005, and each of these global giants has its own big plans for this market. Michelin intends to increase its car and light commercial tyre market share to 4 per cent of its worldwide sales by 2010 and to double this share again within another decade, and Bridgestone’s mid-term target in China is to grab a 20 per cent market share in 2008.
So the obvious question for local tyre manufacturers in China is what place do they have in this huge and growing market? The OE market is dominated by the international brands that have a long history of cooperation with global vehicle manufacturers, making it a market that local tyremakers have difficulty penetrating. This leaves the aftermarket as the main avenue for pursuing sales, and this sector poses its own set of problems for Chinese manufacturers.
Continental AG has announced a third quarter profit increase of 7 per cent, largely attained through the strong performance of the company’s tyre division. However this result has fallen short of market expectations of a 17 per cent rise in profit. Third quarter EBIT was 426.1 million euros, up 8.1 per cent over Q3 2006, while the quarter’s net profit was 251.5 million euros, a figure that failed to meet analyst predictions of 274 million euros.
The company’s consolidated sales for the first nine months of 2007 rose by 8.9 per cent to 11.92 billion euros; before changes in the scope of consolidation and exchange rate effects, consolidated sales were up 6.4 per cent. During the nine-month period EBIT rose by 19.8 per cent to 1.34 billion euros and the return on sales increased by 11.2 per cent; before changes in the scope of consolidation and special effects, EBIT rose 15.8 per cent to 1.38 billion euros. The adjusted return on sales amounted to 12.0 per cent, up from 10.9 per cent last year. The net income attributable to shareholders of the parent increased 25.3 per cent to 825.2 million euros, with earnings per share higher at 5.63 euros, as opposed to last year’s 4.51 euros.