Cooper Tire & Rubber is cutting back on 1,100 jobs and scaling back, or shutting some 18 plants world-wide. Cutbacks at US plants in Michigan, North Carolina and Texas do not appear to affect tyre manufacture. Lay-offs at European plants have still to be confirmed and would be undertaken in consultation with employee representatives. The cutbacks come alongside announcements of record third quarter profits.
The Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. has reorganised its Tire Group, naming three divisional presidents. Mark Armstrong is president of the North American Tire Division. D. Richard Stephens is president of the International Tire Division and Larry Enders is president, Commercial Products Division.
New Technical Centre Building For Bridgestone in Tokyo
Bridgestone Corporation celebrated the completion of a major addition to its Tokyo Technical Centre on Monday, November 13th. The new building is part of a year-long series of events to mark Bridgestones 70th anniversary in March 2001. On hand for the completion ceremony were 56 Bridgestone executives, employees and guests, including Bridgestone President and Chief Executive Officer Yoichiro Kaizaki. The company has invested about 65 million Dollars in the project. The new Technical Centre Building stands eight stories tall and offers a floor space of around 34,000 square metres, bringing the total floor space at the Technical Centre to around 53,000 square metres.
Dr. Hans-Joachim Nikolin, Chairman of the Semperit supervisory board and board member of Continental AG, confirmed during a supervisory board meeting of Semperit Reifen Ges.m.b.H. in Traiskirchen in mid-December that the Semperit factory at Traiskirchen will play an essential strategic part in the introduction of a new manufacturing process. Continental has developed a European strategy for the Modular Manufacturing Process (MMP), envisaging three MMP factories, each responsible for the supply of one large European region. The Traiskirchen factory has been chosen to supply the South and East European markets. The decision about a second MMP location to supply Western Europe is said to be imminent, whereas a suitable supply plant for the North European region has not yet been found. The production plan for the year 2000 gives 1.5 million car tyres made by the standard and one million by the MMP process, a total number of 2.5 million units as originally planned. However, since the manufacturing process of MMP tyres is less complicated than the standard production process, a reduction in the workforce is inevitable and cannot be compensated for by the planned increased output of 825,000 commercial vehicle tyres in the year 2000. The MMP tyre is produced in modules allowing the cost-effective production of smaller lots, and a fast reaction to the requirements of the market. MMP is therefore primarily designed as a means of reacting fast to developments in the replacement markets, and only in exceptional cases would it be considered for original equipment. This production process does away with the necessity to make a large variety of products at the standard factories, thus freeing them for large-series production.
Hayes Lemmerz International, the world’s largest wheel manufacturer, plans to invest 23 million US dollars with the objective of quadrupling the annual capacity of the Mexican aluminium wheel factory in Chihuahua to 1.2 million units by the year 2001.
Renault is negotiating with Samsung Motors, of South Korea, to buy the latters Pusan plant (production capacity 200,000) for Euro 400 million. Renaults daughter company RVI, made an offer to Daewoo to buy its truck operation (production capacity 20,000) and bus operations (production capacity 6,000 units) for Euro 700 million. Renault has already bought a 37% stake in Nissan for around Euro 5 billion and the new plans will bring the companys investment in Asia to more than Euro 6 bn.
At Last The Number One Again – “Goodyear, All Systems Go!”
Imagine the scene; Goodyear chairman Sam Gibara addresses an audience of 144 leading managers from around the world, telling them of Goodyears ambition to be not only the worlds biggest tyre manufacturer, but also the most profitable. He tells them of the reasons behind the Dunlop joint ventures and spells out the goals for which the Goodyear family has to strive to achieve the companys aims. What lies in store for Goodyear? Does size matter? What changes are needed in management attitudes, distribution policy and brand strategies if Goodyear is to be the best? How important is the adoption of a mullet-brand strategy in the various world-wide markets? These and other thought-provoking questions are discussed at length. As we said earlier, imagine the scene. The truth is there was no meeting in Hawaii and Mr. Gibara did not make the speech - but he certainly could have. The article can be downloaded in full length as PDF file (size: 2.84 Mbyte, Adobe Acrobat Reader required).
Michelin Pilot Primacy – Second Generation for this Growth Segment
With the new Michelin Pilot Primacy, introduced to the trade press at the beginning of March and available through the trade this spring in a total of 33 sizes, the company intends to strengthen further its dominant role as original equipment supplier of high-performance tyres. Dynamic market development can be observed in all European states in this exacting segment, sometimes up to double-digit annual growth rates. Michelin, too, puts its faith in significant growth in this segment by introducing the second generation of the Pilot family, up-dated by the Primacy, a tyre conceived for original equipment but later also to be supplied to the refit market. The new tyre was specially designed for the requirements of high-mileage drivers, who expect not only safety reserves but also a high level of comfort during frequently long journeys in their fast top and upper medium-class cars. Among the car manufacturers’ specifications highest priority has been given to weight reduction, safety, ride comfort and easy handling. In the April issue of NEUE REIFENZEITUNG you can learn more about how Michelin wants to meet these requirements.
There are rumours in the market that the industry will raise tyre prices – maybe even this week – to cover increases in raw materials (rubber, oil, carbon black). As production capacities have been expanded during the last 24 months, it is doubted whether any increase will stick due to market pressure.
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%).
Bridgestone is to join Goodyear, Continental, Michelin, Cooper, Pirelli, Yokohama and others in raising tyre prices in the USA to compensate for raw material price increases. Effective June 1st, Bridgestone tyre prices will rise 4%. Historically, Bridgestone has taken advantage of other manufacturers price increases in order to gain market share, so this latest announcement seems to indicate that this time the price rises will stick.
The sale of Land Rover to Ford by BMW – a deal which was in doubt recently – has been finalised. BMW agreed to Fords stipulation that one third of the asking price of 3 bn Euros will not be paid until the year 2005.
Over the years the Stahlgruber group and its international subsidiaries has sold tens of thousands of items of capital equipment to the tyre industry. The company feels that consolidation in the equipment manufacturing industry has led to a narrowing of sourcing opportunities and a consequent adverse effect on price and customer choice. The answer was to form a ‘Best Enterprise Alliance’ in which a number of companies group together to form a product range, based on their individual areas of expertise. These companies are Stahlgruber, Butler (the Stahlgruber-owned manufacturer of tyre changers), Cemb, Hunter and Rotary Lifts. Butler will make a range of tyre changers, called Promont, and Cemb a range of wheel balancers, called Probalance, which will be exclusive to Stahlgruber and its subsidiaries. Hunter wheel alignment equipment and Rotary lifts will also be sold. Stahlgruber will continue to sell Butler tyre changers alongside the Promont range. Further information on what the alliance means to the companies involved, and of the ‘own name’ ranges of machines can be found in TYRES & ACCESSORIES 6/2000.