High-end, specialty tyres essential for survival – Bridgestone CEO
Recently appointed Bridgestone CEO Masaaki Tsuya has spoken candidly about the tyre maker’s future against a backdrop of increasing competition from Asian manufacturers and global economic challenges. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Tsuya stated that Bridgestone must focus on high-end and more specialised products in order to survive. "We will lose if we make similar products using similar production methods (to our competitors)," he said.
Demand for commercial vehicle tyres from crisis-plagued Europe is declining, and Tsuya believes the region’s troubles may drag on for years. In contrast to problems in Western economies, Asia is enjoying economic growth. This is boosting the yen’s performance, giving Bridgestone’s Chinese, Korean and Taiwanese rivals a further competitive edge. “It’s possible that the yen will become much stronger,” he said, suggesting the US dollar could decline from its current rate of 80 yen to as low as 50 yen.
The new CEO thus opined it would be difficult for a Japanese manufacturer to be viable in future unless it develops superior new products and production technologies. “I think there is still a chance we can do it,” he commented, his choice of words implying that such an outcome is by no means certain. Tsuya believes Bridgestone should concentrate on large OTR tyres for construction and mining vehicles and fuel efficient passenger car tyres as its core products – tyres he said “other competitors can’t easily match.”