The fact that natural rubber prices have rebounded 25 per cent to US$2.1/kg for RSS3 in the last month means raw material prices that had been assisting tyre manufacturers are no longer a “tailwind.” The news is forcing analysts such as Deutsche Bank revise their earnings estimates as they had mostly factored in the possibility that that tyre companies would pass a portion of this raw material price benefit onto their vehicle making customers. However, with the current boost in rubber prices behind them the 33 – 50 per cent of the so-called rubber tailwind they may have pencilled to share with the OEMs is not likely to be erased.
According to Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the publication of a new Quality Protocol (QP) and certification scheme will help to drive the market for rubber crumb and shred derived from used tyres. Mervyn Jones, joint project executive and head of manufacturing at WRAP told Tyres & Accessories the Quality Protocol will assure material quality and encourage sector growth. However, the practical basis for this expansion is not clear and there are question marks over how much this will cost businesses and ultimately end users. Transport Research Laboratory will operate the tyres QP certification process.
Mervyn Jones believes this growth will be driven by the introduction of a new voluntary QP and certification scheme planned for November 2009, by the Waste Protocols project – a joint WRAP and Environment Agency initiative. The QP follows on from a publicly available specification document (PAS 107) published in 2007. Developed by WRAP and the British Standards Institute (BSI), PAS 107 helps manufacturers of tyre-derived rubber crumb and shred to ensure their products adhere to specified quality standards.
Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development, Hirohide Hamashima declared himself “pleased” following Friday’s practice sessions for the Belgian Grand Prix at the undulating Spa Francorchamps circuit. He stated that the unexpected morning showers were “good for Bridgestone as we could evaluate the performance of our latest specification intermediate tyre relative to the wet tyre. We are pleased to say our initial performance feedback and data has been as anticipated.”
Continental has completed its acquisition of Slovakian company, Continental Matador Rubber S.r.o. following the purchase of the 34 per cent stake held by the Cyprus-based minority shareholder, M.I.L. Investments Ltd for $67 million (£41.1 million).
The Eastern Daily Press describes it as "infamous", but despite its local notoriety days may be numbered for the tyre mountain on the Tattersett Business Park, near Fakenham. The newspaper reports that work is "underway" towards a planning application for the creation of a £1 million re-cycling facility.
Local newspaper, The Sentinel reports that a 70-year old man from Stoke-on-Trent was placed under citizen’s arrest earlier in the week after a Neighbourhood Watch coordinator said he saw him “stab the tyres of a Ford Ka” in Sneyd Green.
When at the start of the year Japanese manufacturer Toyo Tire & Rubber Co., Ltd. put the brakes on expenditure in response to the global economic and financial crisis, the package of measures implemented were received with a shock: layoffs, massive budget cutbacks, withdrawal from the Tokyo Motor Show, restrictions upon travel for management and so on. Later it became public knowledge that top managers voluntarily forewent their bonuses. Since that time a collective sigh of relief has been breathed that some of the restrictions didn’t turn out to be as severe as first anticipated, and for Toyo’s factories in particular the tide has turned. "Our plant utilisation in Japan is already approaching a hundred per cent," comments Tatsuo Mitsuhata (44), executive vice president Toyo Tire Europe. The company’s Japanese competitors are somewhat lagging in this respect and their recovery not occurring as quickly as Toyo’s.
With a strong focus in its corporate communications on providing more fuel efficient tyres with reduced rolling resistance, Michelin clearly sees an opportunity for its premium products in the current climate by emphasising its tyres’ abilities in this area.
Alcoa’s Wheel and Transportation Products business has introduced the "CalcuLighter". Found at http://www.alcoa.com/calculighter, the CalcuLighter is an on-line tool for truck fleet and owner-operators that is designed to provide exact financial data comparing steel and aluminium wheel alternatives. Designed primarily for US based users, site visitors can quickly compare steel duals versus aluminium duals or wide base wheels, or aluminium duals compared to wide base, simply by entering a few specifics regarding their own operational needs.
Continental Tyre Group is highlighting the benefits of using its free online fuel saving calculator to lower operational costs. Continental’s fuel saving calculator is designed to compare all premium competitor products for regional and long distance applications. By entering the fleet size, the number of kilometres travelled per year, the average fuel consumption of the selected tyre brand and the fuel cost in £ per gallon, the tool calculates the annual fuel consumption with the chosen brand and the annual fuel spend.
Recent positive economic indicators coming out of Europe, Asia and the US have given analysts reason to forecast a recovery in the global logistics industry. However for global freight and parcel volumes and revenues to rebound significantly – and therefore the tyre sales which rely on logistics firms’ prosperity – analysts at Datamonitor suggest there will need to be “major improvements in consumer confidence, industrial output and subsequent international trade volumes.”
1 in 5 companies in the UK Tyre Manufacturers & Distributors industry are now making a loss making according to analysts at Plimsoll Publishing. The report’s author, David Pattison, commented: “Increasingly we are seeing companies making a loss for the first time in their history and I think they can rightly claim they are victims of difficult trading conditions.”
However, 30 companies are reportedly making a loss for the second and even third year running. According to Plimsoll, “these companies are either blatantly undercutting the rest of the market to enhance or maintain market share or, more likely, have delayed making…painful decision[s]…No one wants to trim costs, lay off staff, cancel dividend payments and the like but continuing on regardless is fast becoming unviable.”
20 per cent of tyres fitted to major leasing fleet vehicles are being replaced early due to avoidable tyre damage. According to figures published by ATS Euromaster following a review of the tyre replacement cycle across 100,000 lease vehicles, the average remaining tread on tyres removed through damage is 4.8mm. With 1mm of tread equivalent to approximately 4,000 miles, these damaged tyres are achieving less than half their potential life. Across a sample fleet of 25,000 vehicles, this damage is costing over £440,000 each year in wasted mileage potential.
The three-year contract BFGoodrich signed with the United Steelworkers for its Tuscaloosa, US plant is said to have had one of the lowest number of ‘no’ votes ever experienced by the local union chapter. "'We are pleased with the contract. We are pleased with the vote," USW Local 351 president Jimmy Price told local media. Price, who was on the union's bargaining committee, added that he felt BFGoodrich was "very responsible to give a fair contract."