According to data released by Pirelli & C. SpA, Europe’s passenger car and light commercial vehicle replacement tyre market grew 14 per cent year-on-year during April 2010, below the 20 per cent improvement observed in March yet a three point improvement on the market’s 10.5 per cent year-to-date improvement. Original equipment sales of all tyre brands in Europe improved one per cent year-on-year during April, considerably lower than the 19.25 per cent improvement seen in the year-to-date. Replacement market truck tyre sales showed a 20 per cent year-on-year improvement during the month, down on the year-to-date increase of 32.75 per cent. The original equipment truck tyre market in Europe shot up 60 per cent in April, by far the largest monthly year-to-date growth so far this year. Year-to-date, growth in this sector have improved by 16 per cent over last year.
Chinese UHP Tyre Sales Increasing at Twice the Overall Market Rate
Appetite in China for high performance tyres is growing. In mid-May, Michelin launched its Pilot Sport 3 into this market, making 18 sizes available for Chinese consumers. The Pilot Sport 3 complements the Primacy LC, introduced last year, in Michelin’s China market performance portfolio. "We are putting more attention on the high performance tyre market than before, a segment that is growing at a speed twice that of the overall tyre market in China last year," said Antoine Guerin, vice-president of marketing and sales with Michelin (China) Investment Co Ltd.
During the opening quarter of the 2010 financial year, Kumho Tires posted sales of KRW 586.4 billion (₤343.8 million), representing 27.7 per cent quarter on quarter and 18 per cent year-on-year growth. Operating profit during the three months to March 31, 2010 amounted to KRW 21.3 billion (₤12.5 million) and net income KRW 20.9 billion (₤12.3 million). The tyre maker comments that these gains result from an improved plant operation rate and greater export sales. Export volume during the quarter was up 40 per cent year-on-year, an occurrence Kumho attributes the general recovery of North America’s car and tyre markets – one of its key sales territories.
Toyo Tire & Rubber has announced a return to the black with a net income of 2,957 million yen (₤21.5 million) for the 2009 fiscal year. The Japanese company, which made a 10,722 million yen loss during the 2008 financial year, earned a profit in the 12 months to March 31, 2010 despite a 12.4 per cent decline in net sales to 287,726 million yen (₤2.1 billion). Operating income during the recent financial year amounted to 8,664 million yen (₤62.9 million). The company’s tyre business unit posted net sales of 214,291 million yen (₤1.6 billion), accounting for 74.5 per cent of total net sales and a 11.5 per cent drop from 2008 sales. Ordinary income for the 2009 financial year was 6,933 million yen (₤50.3 million); a year earlier an ordinary loss of 1,395 million yen was recorded.
Lay-Offs, Redundancies Imminent at Nokia’s Finland Plant
Nokian Tyres reports that on May 10 it entered into statutory negotiations affecting around 70 employees at its facility in Nokia, Finland. In a press statement, the tyre maker says approximately ten office employees and 60 blue-collar employees are involved in “adjustment measures” that include changing some of the rotating shift lay-offs initiated in January 2009 to full lay-offs, effective until further notice. Nokian also intends to terminate some employment contracts, it says.
The short-lived dip in raw material costs the industry experienced in 2009 helped Yokohama Rubber towards a better bottom line result in the recently concluded financial year. The company has announced net earnings of 11.5 billion yen (₤83.5 million) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2010. This gain compares with a net loss of 5.7 billion yen in the previous fiscal year and reflects a surge in operating profitability. Operating income rose 67.5 per cent, to 21.5 billion yen (£156.1), on a 9.8 per cent decline in net sales, to 466.4 billion yen (₤3.4 billion). Underlying Yokohama’s surge in operating income were the abovementioned reversal of the upward trend in raw material costs and the company’s progress in reducing selling expenses and other costs. Net profitability benefited additionally, meanwhile, from a sharp reduction in losses on currency translation adjustments.
New Technical Centre Staff to Boost Cooper Innovation
An increased pace of new product development has prompted Cooper Tire & Rubber to increase staff levels at its three technical centres. During 2010 a total of approximately 40 new employees will come on board, including several at the company’s European Technical Centre in Melksham. Cooper states that 25 engineers and scientists will also begin work at its North America Technical Center in Ohio and 13 at its Asian Technical Center in Shanghai.
Continental is working together with two other companies on a project related to lithium-ion batteries for commercial vehicles. Specifically, Continental, along with automotive suppliers ZF Friedrichshafen and ads-tec, are embarking on a joint project to develop production techniques for optimising the pre-assembly and final assembly stages of lithium-ion energy storage unit modules for use in hybrid commercial vehicles. This joint project, titled “FUEL” or “Future goes Electric”, is being sponsored by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of a government economic stimulus package.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. will increase prices on all of its consumer tyres in North America by up to 6 per cent as of 1 June, says Tire Review. This includes Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly-Springfield brands. The company cites rising raw material and transportation costs as the reasons for the increases.
Nexen Europe GmbH has announced that it will implement a price increase of 7 per cent across its ranges of car, 4x4 and van summer tyres. According to the company, the price increases has been prompted by the continuing series of prices increases the manufacturer has itself experienced in the commodity markets and also in logistics, which account for “a significant portion of Nexen Tire’s costs.” The situation has reportedly been exacerbated by the “ever weakening euro against the dollar” due to the fact that raw material and logistics deals are generally settled in dollars.
Conti Adopts EMEA Name for Regional Distribution Network
Continental has adopted the now commonplace acronym ‘EMEA’ – Europe, Middle East and Africa – as the name of business formerly known as Car Tyre Aftermarket Sector Europe and Africa. This change of name is said to have taken place an organisational response to the company’s enlargement of its aftermarket importer and dealer network in the Middle East and Africa regions.
Goodyear Seeing the Benefit’s of Last Year’s Actions – Kramer
“We are very pleased with our strong first quarter performance,” stated Goodyear’s recently appointed president and chief executive officer, Richard J. Kramer, upon the release of the company’s January 1 to March 31 results. The US tyre maker reports an improvement in tyre unit volumes, sales and segment operating income during the quarter, as well as a “significantly” smaller net loss despite a one-time charge related to the currency devaluation in Venezuela.
We’re Back on the Road to Success, Conti Shareholders Told
Addressing the company’s Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, held in Hannover, Germany on April 28, chairman of the Continental AG Executive Board, Dr. Elmar Degenhart, stated “if you wanted to summarise the year 2009, you could boil it down to a simple notion – state of emergency.” The major events affecting the market, he added, resulted in the most dramatic economic crisis in the post-war era.
During the three months to March 31, Continental AG achieved sales of almost six billion euros, a 1.7 billion euro year-on-year increase. At 494 million euros, the company’s reported EBIT was more than 650 million euros higher than the comparative figure for the previous year’s quarter. From this total, sales from Conti’s Rubber Group accounted for 2.2 billion of the total, and reported group EBIT was 313 million euros.
Michelin, Wheel Manufacturers Join Ford Key Supplier Network
Michelin and wheel manufacturers Hayes Lemmerz and Ronal are three of 13 new companies the Ford Motor Company has added to its Aligned Business Framework (ABF). The presence of the tyre and wheel manufacturers within Ford’s ABF brings the number of key component and service suppliers Ford has chosen for long-term relationships and closer collaboration to 90.