Ford Ambitious to Become Largest Tyre Marketer in USA
American trends, schemes that have proved successful on the other side of the big pond, will spill over to Europe after a short delay. That has always been so. So watch out for the letters FCSD and remember that they stand for Ford Customer Service Division. The car giant has just started a strong advertising campaign in North America, introducing to the public America’s Newest Tire Store, a network of 2,400 of the current 5,000 Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers. According to a Ford spokesman, this is the latest step in providing customers with everything they really need, and all at one stop. The Ford and Lincoln dealers, he claimed, have suitable business premises, sufficient relevant expertise and the scope to offer competitive prices – with the express advance warning that Ford has no intention to be cheap but will market tyres at a fair price. Tyre manufacturers build tyres to Ford specifications, the spokesman explained, and it would therefore only be a natural progression for the company to market original replacement parts. Thus only original equipment suppliers will be able to take part in the Ford replacement business. To give the project a kick-start the company currently runs a lavish and expensive TV campaign (costs are not disclosed), later to be supported and partly replaced by radio advertising and direct mailing. Carl Bergmann, Customer Service Operations Manager, can see no point in sending customers away in future when they want to buy tyres. And these are certainly not empty words: In July 1998 the Ford organisation sold a mere 700 tyres, the figure for this July was 97,000, and that is only a start. The sales target for the current year is one million tyres, three million in the year 2000, to be doubled again to six million units in 2001, at least according to a Ford Motor Co. spokesman talking to the press. These are large numbers indeed, but not unrealistically so, because if each of the currently participating 2,400 dealers only sells one set of tyres per day, the three-million barrier will be breached.
One of the UKs leading tyre wholesalers, R. H. Claydon Ltd, suffered minimal fire damage at the end of last week at their Stockport, Cheshire warehouse. The fire started in an adjoining building belonging to another company and spread to the warehouse, but no stock was damaged and the sales division continues to operate normally.
Continental Introduces Two New Winter Tyre Tread Patterns
For the launch of its two new winter tyre models, the ContiWinterContact TS 780 and the transporter and van tyre VancoWinter at the beginning of October the Continental AG management chose a very special venue: Iceland. However, a blizzard that raged for days prevented practical tests of the new tyres on the selected glacier. Developers of winter tyres are always faced with the classic dilemma: Do they design for optimum grip on snow or on dry roads? The development of the TS 780 for vehicles of the compact and lower medium classes aimed at reducing the discrepancy between the two objectives. An important innovation is a sipe construction which tries to emulate the architecture of beehives with its honeycomb shape. According to the manufacturer, the honeycomb sipe has clear safety advantages when cornering on snow. A directional tread pattern and the latest silica compound technology are additional features responsible for the new tyre’s good driving characteristics in wintry conditions as well as on dry and wet roads. It is available in all European markets needing winter tyres, initially in 13 sizes from 145/80 R 13 75Q to 185/60 R 14 82T. The VancoWinter was specially developed for medium and heavy vans. Traction on ice and snow is provided by sipes which are incorporated in the tread blocks. To achieve a significant improvement over its predecessor, the LMS 70, the VancoWinter’s sipes and blocks are twice as high. Its behaviour on icy roads is to be improved by distributing the pressure on the ground more evenly. The van tyre is immediately available, at first in nine sizes (from 185 R 14C to 195/65 R 16C).
Nokian Tyres has agreed to purchase up to 94 % of the ISKO-shares. ISKO is the largest Finnish Tyre wholesaler and retailer. As soon as the transaction has been completed Nokian Tyres will have the largest equity in Nordic Europe consisting of 117 depots with 750 employees in Scandinavia together with Estonia and Latvia.
Pirelli has published its figures for the first nine months of 1999. Turnover is up 15%. The Cables and Systems sector turnover was 2,805 million Euros (first nine months of 1998 2,036 million) while the Tyre Sector turnover was 1,917 million Euros (2,068 million). Gross operating profit was 489 million Euros (492 million) and consolidated operating profit was 231 million Euros (264 million).
Approximately 29 million winter tyres will be sold in Central Europe (i.e. without Scandinavia) this winter. In Germany alone the figure will be well in excess of 16 million units (55 p.c.). Germany’s motorists will spend about three billion marks this year on tyres and services when refitting their vehicles with winter tyres.
Rumours about Continental/Pirelli Joint Venture Nothing but Red Herrings?
Although a joint venture between Continental and Pirelli could make sense in the tyre sector, observers do not believe it. The Italians, in any case, deny it vehemently. While the German group is still recovering from the enormous effort of the Teves acquisition, the Italians are about to concentrate more on entering the real estate business. An extremely nervous reaction came from Pirelli Reifenwerke managers, who do not like such talk in the market, especially since they have enough to do looking after themselves. Sales boss Röske speaks in eloquent terms of the lustre of the Pirelli tyre brand that makes his team’s eyes shine. The brand, he says, is stronger than our customers sometimes want to give us credit for. In Röske’s opinion Continental may perhaps have tried to throw dust in people’s eyes to divert attention from a potential takeover by Bridgestone. This magazine rather thinks that Conti boss Kessel wants to avert the public gaze from talks with the telephone group Mannesmann, which is possibly ready to part with its automotive division.
Bridgestone/Firestone Europe Appoints General Manager OE Sales
Bridgestone/Firestone Europe (BFE) has appointed Mr. Uwe Kaster as General Manager of European OE Sales. He will be based at Bridgestone/Firestone Deutschland. The company says that the appointment has been made in response to its increasing growth with European vehicle producers. Mr. Kaster joins BFE from the Rutgers Automotive Group.
Tyre manufacturer Cooper Avon wants to buy Siebe’s Automotive Devision. According to present information Cooper has to pay 244.5 million US-Dollar for the company which belongs to the British Invensys group.
Goodyear revises wrong decision regarding the Gadsden Plant in Alabama
The company anticipated a reduction in demand and took the decision to cut most of the production capacity of its Gadsden plant. Only a few months later Goodyear is forced to immidiately employ 500 - 550 workers to meet the demand for Goodyear tyres in the USA.
American photographer Annie Leibovitz was inspired by classic Rubens and Botticelli pictures when creating the Pirelli Calendar 2000, which was recently presented in London. Leibowitz was also involved in Pirelli’s 1994 advertising compaign showing Carl Lewis in red high heels.