It would be something of an understatement to say that high raw material costs, the weak dollar and unprecedented competition from the Far East is affecting UK alloy wheel manufacturing. But, in the cases of the selection of companies that Tyres & Accessories spoke to, it is more a question of ingenuity triumphing over adversity. So, in the face of such pressing circumstances, how are UK manufacturers holding firm? Work smarter, not necessarily harder, they say.
If the 8th Moscow Tires & Rubber show is anything to go by, the Russian tyre market looks set to continue its development as a growth market. While the show was marked by growing interest from exhibitors and visitors, the market itself has produced some generally optimistic data and has seen perceptions of the manufacturers’ market approaches improve. All this suggests that the Russian market will continue to develop into a very interesting tyre market, with a strong growth potential.
Well-known motoring journalist, Robert Collin, has accused Continental of doing “anything to win magazine tyre tests.” In an article published by the Swedish Aftonbladet magazine, the journalist suggests that the company has won tests by supplying “special” tyres.
The apparent motivation for the alleged underhanded behaviour is simple. Winning a tyre test can mean an increase in sales and is therefore big business. The Aftonbladet reports that this effect is particularly marked in countries like Germany and France and so the temptation for manufacturers is great. From a magazine’s point of view, the problem is that when the latest tyres are reviewed, they are generally not available in the shops and so testers have to trust manufacturers when they provide tyres for testing.
Goodyear presented three new high performance Dunlop tyres at the SEMA show in an effort to rejuvenate its North American line up of the fading brand. Independent tyre dealers and consumers that attended the show had the chance to see the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx, the company’s new “flagship ultra-performance tyre” that has already been released into the European market and that performed well in Autocar’s recent tyre tests.
According to Andy Traicoff, director of the Dunlop brand in North America, the tyre has been received enthusiastically from manufacturers seeking “original-equipment tyres for their high-horsepower models.”
Goodyear is to supply tyres for the new International pickup truck. At nine feet tall, the new vehicle will be two feet taller than the Ford F-350 or Humvee.
The International CXT, Commercial Extreme Truck, will be the world’s largest production pickup truck, according to the company. Every large vehicle needs large tyres in this case 22.5 inch tyres. Chuck Yurkovich, general manager of Goodyear original equipment commercial, said the tyres will provide some “serious traction.” The 14 ply tyres will have to support the seven-ton pickup as well as the six tons of payload it can carry. In the front the truck will use Unisteel G159A radial tyres and G167A high-mileage drive axle tyres in the rear.
Pirelli Asserts Itself as Latin America’s Number One
Carlos Redondo has been Pirellis CEO for Latin America since the beginning of 2003. Before that he was CFO for Pirelli Tyres worldwide. With a turnover of approximately 1 billion euros, about one third of Pirellis total worldwide turnover Mr Redondo is successfully piloting his division from its headquarters in Sao Paulo. Tyres & Accessories met Mr Redondo last month in Usuhaia, south Argentina, in conjunction with the launch of its new Sottozero winter tyre. To download the whole article as a PDF file, click here.
A-Z Formen and Maschinenbau GmbH Germany has sold its Rubber Extruder Division and the related IPR and know-how to VMI - AZ Extrusion GmbH Germany, a newly founded company which is part of the VMI Group. All staff have been transferred to the new company.
VMI is a supplier of tyre manufacturing and rubber compound handling machinery. Plants operating in Europe, North America and East Asia will now produce the systems. Following the acquisition the VMI Group is now in a position to supply products, process know-how and service to rubber extrusion and retread customers worldwide.
The new company’s production facility and headquarters will be based in Runding Germany, whilst its sales offices will remain in Munich and Akron USA at their existing addresses. Business contacts within both locations will remain the same, however Mr Florian Fischer, currently manager of the Machine Division of A-Z will now become the new general manager. Mr Auke Dalstra, currently VP and CFO of the VMI Group will assist him.
A-Z Formen and Maschinenbau GmbH, has been supplying molds and mold closing systems for the tyre industry, special machinery for tyre mold production and components for the aerospace and other industries for over 40 years and will now fully concentrate on this sector of its business.
Following year-long negotiations Maxxis International has won an OE contract to supply General Motors. A new multi-year contract specifies that Maxxis will supply its brand of light truck tyre, LT225/75R16, to a General Motors ‘vehicle programme’ in the third quarter of 2006.
Smuggled Tyres A Multi-Million $ Problem For Pakistan
Tyre smuggling costs the Pakistan Government 1.25 billion Rupees (US$ 21.73 million) a year in lost import duty and sales tax. An estimated one million tyres are illegally imported, many originating in Japan and India.
Goodyear has announced that Samir Gibara (64) will resign as chairman at the end of June. He will be succeeded by Robert Keegan (55), who is currently president and CEO and who will retain responsibility for these two roles. Gibara joined Goodyear in 1964 and has been chairman since July 1996. He paid tribute to the speed with which Keegan learned the industry and demonstrated his leadership abilities. For his part, Keegan said that Gibara had provided important and valued counsel since Keegan joined Goodyear in October 2000 as president and COO.
Nokian and Matador To Commence Contract Manufacturing
Nokian Tyres plc and Matador AS are signing a contract manufacturing agreement. This transaction will mean that Matador will produce Nokian branded speed categories S, T, and H car summer tyres at its factory in Slovakia. The tyres will be sold in Eastern European markets. The production target for 2003 is 100 thousand Nokian tyres with initial sales taking place during the first quarter of the year. Volume manufacture will increase to 300 thousand tyres by the end of 2005.Through contract manufacturing Nokian will continue to ensure its growth potential in Eastern Europe. Production capacity at the companys factory in Finland will be freed to produce ultra high performance tyres. The agreement will be valid until the end of 2005 and after that on a one-year basis.
Samir G. Gibara (61), chairman and chief executive officer of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, has been elected to the board of directors of Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. in Kobe, Japan. Gibaras election is in conjunction with Goodyears 10 percent ownership of SRI, following the companies global alliance, completed in September 1999. This ownership makes Goodyear SRIs second-largest shareholder. SRI holds 1.4 percent of Goodyears common stock.
Indian Tyre Manufacturer To Be Acquired By Pirelli
As reported by the Indian magazine Rubber Asia, Pirelli has sought the expertise of Citybank for a cost evaluation of the Birla Tyre company, which has a 15 per cent share of the Indian truck and automotive tyre market. The deal, if everything goes well, is likely to be struck sometime this month.
Despite a slight fall in new car registrations in France during April, the market so far this year has risen 6% compared to 1999. French manufacturers have done exceptionally well, with Renault sales up 6% and Peugeot up 12%. Not so happy in April were Fiat (down 28%) and Ford (down 25%).
Tyre Manufacturers In Global E-Commerce Initiative
Six of the largest tyre manufacturers have announced their intention to develop a global e-business purchasing company. Rubbernetwork.com is an independent company which will host a global exchange, including Conti, Cooper, Goodyear, Michelin, Pirelli and Sumitomo Rubber. Confidentiality is assured and the exchange will be open to all manufacturers and suppliers. It will be operating by the year end. Significant savings and efficiencies in purchasing are predicted.