It is now three years since Warburg Pincus and its partner, former Balkrishna Industries executive director Yogesh Mahansaria, announced an intention to acquire Alliance Tire. In the time since the Mahansaria family and their global private equity backer took possession of Alliance for approximately US$150 million, plans to develop the business have progressed steadily. Not only has the goal of taking advantage of India’s cheaper production costs been realised – the company’s $100 million cross-ply agricultural tyre factory in Tirunelveli has been readied for the start of commercial production – during 2009 acquisitions and further inroads into new markets boosted the Alliance brand’s profile considerably.
Changes are afoot within Goodyear Tire & Rubber’s European agricultural tyre business. Last September, the company signed a non-binding letter of intent with Titan International to sell its European agricultural tyre assets, including the Goodyear Dunlop Tires France Amiens North factory. In December Tyres & Accessories discussed this deal with Alessandro Coggi, managing director Farm and Industrial Tires, Goodyear Dunlop Europe.
Cameron Steele, a long-time Yokohama Tire Corporation-sponsored off-road racer, captured his second consecutive SNORE (Southern Nevada Off-Road Enthusiasts) Unlimited Truck Class championship by winning the BMS Rage at the River season finale on December 12-13. Steele and his Desert Assassins team mate Josh Daniel both won their respective classes and finished 1-2 overall among all racers competing in the event.
Nevada, USA based company Quadra Projects Inc. has announced that it is in “ongoing negotiations” to enter into a joint venture with two companies – Renewable Energy Capital LLC and an “undisclosed” tyre supplier – to establish a waste tyre conversion plant capable of processing waste tyres into marketable by-products.
Egypt is planning to establish a new passenger car tyre factory at a cost of 600 million Egyptian pounds. The state news agency MENA reports the plant will be built in El-Amerya, west of Alexandria, and will be ready to start production in two years. According to MENA, the factory’s annual capacity will be one and a half million units.
The Firestone brand has walloped a home run over the stadium wall with the signing of a multi-year agreement between Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC (BATO) and Major League Baseball Properties (MLBP) on December 18. Through the deal reached between the two parties, Firestone has become the first “Official Tire of Major League Baseball”. The agreement also marks the largest sports sponsorship for the 109-year-old Firestone brand outside of motorsports.
Continental AG reports having already successfully completed the first “key steps” of its overall plan to improve its current financing structure and capital structure following the signing of loan agreements on December 19. The German tyre and automotive components supplier states that “important” amendments have been made to the existing loan agreements, allowing for the repayment of the 3.5 billion euro tranche due in August 2010 inter alia by a forward start facility (FSF) while also providing further flexibility. At the same time, the company has received FSF commitments in excess of the requested 2.5 billion euros, which has resulted in an over-subscription of their bank group’s request.
The third Reifen China exhibition, held in Shanghai between 11 and 13 November 2009, hosted 6,693 visitors (1,333 international visitors) during the show’s three days. These were welcomed to the show by exhibitors mainly from the world's largest production market. In addition to the wide variety of Chinese and international tyre manufacturers and traders at the show, the 2009 event featured an increased number of retreading equipment and consumables companies (such as tyre valve suppliers) over previous years.
The National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland (NBPR) has admitted Nokian Tyres’ “Hakkapeliitta” brand name to its ‘List of Trademarks with a Reputation’. So far, 42 trademarks have been admitted to the list. Admission to the list requires substantial evidence of trademark's awareness in Finland, and is used to help avoid trademark disputes.
A fourth commercial vehicle tyre from Continental Tire North America, the HTL1 super single trailer tyre, has been added to the US Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay Transport Partnership list of verified technologies for tyres. The HTL1, which, replaces dual tyres on highway or regional trailer axle fitments, joins Conti’s HSL2, HDL Eco Plus and HTL Eco Plus in this group of low rolling resistance tyres – this means that Continental now has a SmartWay verified tyre for all three truck axle positions.
Reports indicate Cooper Tire & Rubber wishes to increase the share of its global sales generated in China from 25 to 30 per cent in the next three years. "That's our minimum target,” said Allen Tsaur, general manager for Cooper Tire's Asia operations during an interview with Reuters. “The Chinese domestic market is explosive and the pie is expanding. We have to grow fast to keep up the pace.”
Formula One is set to receive its first green technology sponsor following the signing of a multi-year partnership between the Virgin Racing team and Carbon Green. The US based company, as reported by tyrepress.com on December 10, primarily focuses upon pyrolysis based tyre recycling that permits the 100 per cent recycling of tyres and waste rubber into commercially viable marketable commodities of steel, oil and a carbon black substitute suitable for use in tyre and rubber manufacturing.
Continental has entered into an agreement to increase its stake in Continental Automotive Corporation (CAC), the Japanese joint venture it operates with Nisshinbo Holdings Inc., from 51 to 60 per cent in 2010. This increase in shareholding will allow Continental's Chassis & Safety Division to integrate its airbag systems and sensorics business.
The trend towards environmentally-friendlier vehicles, particularly those drawing on the benefits of start-stop technology, has been observed with interest by Johnson Controls. The company notes that, of the 20 plus new cars at the show fitted with its Varta batteries, nearly a quarter of them featured an AGM (absorbent glass matt) battery to power this energy-saving technology. Indeed, driven by EU targets to reduce CO2, the micro-hybrid market is accelerating. Johnson Controls notes that, since the adoption of stop-start technology in the BMW1 Series, more than a million micro-hybrid cars fitted with Varta AGM battery power have been sold in Europe. A further estimated 2.5 million micro hybrid vehicles will be manufactured by 2010, and this is expected to rise to 10 million by 2015.
German company cleanLASER has developed a new system for cleaning tyre moulds utilising a combination of handheld and automated laser tools. The system’s design consists of two laser optic tools that utilise laser light to clean the moulds. One tool is manually operated, while the second is automated. The system includes a beam-switch to enable the operator to select either a handheld cleaning tool for optimal versatility or a robotically mounted optic for repetitive high-speed treatments.