The ContiTech group, part of Continental AG, will cooperate on certain projects with Behr GmbH of Stuttgart, which specialises in air conditioning equipment and in engine cooling. As part of the cooperation Continental will take from Behr a 51 p.c. holding in the Kühner company (making hoses, principally for original equipment in Oppenheim). The company will be integrated into ContiTech Fluid, giving Continental the industrial leadership.
Speedline is a well-known producer of light alloy wheels for original equipment. However, the Italians want to improve their position in the aftermarket and thus a sales company has been formed for Germany in Ravensburg: SL Corse.
Consolidated net sales of the Michelin group climbed to EUR 13.763 million in 1999. Successful areas were North America (+12%), Asia-Pacific, with the exception of Japan, (nearly +9%) and, despite economic problems, South America (+6%). Europe (+1%) remained stable.
The joint-venture aluminium wheel plant SUOFTEC of Superior Industries (Van Nuys/USA) and Otto Fuchs Metallwerke (Meinerzhagen/Germany) in Tatabanya (Hungary) has been awarded the ISO 14000 certification for Environmental Management Standard.
It seems that BMWs CEO Joachim Milberg may be close to being dismissed. The German magazine stern reports that the major shareholder - the Quandt family - has lost confidence in Milberg due to his mis-handling of the problems associated with daugther company Rover. The BMW boss also left many questions unanswered at a press conference on 17th March. For example, he and his colleagues neglected to mention the planned sale of Land Rover to Ford. Milberg also responded with no comment to the question why had three colleagues been forced to leave the company over the Rover fiasco when Milberg himself and the boss of the Supervisory Board Doppelfeld had been the ones responsible? The Quandt family owns over 40% of BMWs shares and they have said that they would never entertain a take-over bid for the company. In the light of recent events, many people are sceptical of such statements.
Pirelli’s truck tyre division generated a 1999 turnover of 466 million Euro and an EBIT of approximately 38 million Euro (eight per cent of turnover). For the current year the division has set itself the firm target of breaking the 500-million-euro barrier. The commercial vehicle tyre business accounts for almost 20 p.c. of Pirelli’s tyre turnover, in which the truck tyre factory in Alexandria/Egypt plays a key role. (The group also has commercial vehicle tyre production in Settimo Torinese/Italy, Izmit/Turkey and Santo André/Brazil). The enterprise started in 1990 with a mere 11 p.c. Pirelli participation in the 150 million dollar investment. And even that was not in hard cash but in know-how about building a new truck tyre factory and research and development data for the product. Other investors were local, both private and public finance consortiums. As Egyptian legislation was liberalised, it became possible for the Italians to increase their share to 60 p.c. by capital raising measures and to take the industrial leadership. Only two years after the start of building the first truck tyre was produced at the Alexandria factory. In 1995 the annual capacity was 100,000 truck tyres, today 330,000. In two investment stages capacity is to be increased to 550,000 tyres in the short term and to 800,000 tyres per year by 2003. But the plans do not only involve volume growth; new products are also part of the project, for instance the tubed tyres FG85 and TG85 for on/off application in Africa and the Middle East, introduced on the Truck Tyre Day 2000. The total investment plan is for 140 million Euro. Currently only a third of the truck tyres produced in Alexandria go to export, but in future exports will account for about half the output. Read more in NEUE REIFENZEITUNG 5/2000.
Earlier in the year we reported that truck tyre production was to stop at the Fort Dunlop factory in Birmingham, UK. There was another devastating blow for the ageing plant when it was announced that car and van tyre production will be phased out by the end of the year. This will lead to 600 job losses, on top of the 650 redundancies earlier in the year. When all the losses have been implemented, the workforce at Fort Dunlop will have fallen from 1,700 to 500 inside twelve months. The latest move is as a result of Goodyear’s review of operations, following the joint venture with Sumitomo and has been blamed on over-production, the strength of Sterling and a reduction in domestic car production. Dunlop brand car and van tyres will continue to be manufactured at the company’s more modern factory in Washington in the North East of England as well as other European factories in the Goodyear group. Production at Washington will increase from six days a week to seven. Around 12,600 car tyres are manufactured daily at the plant. With truck, car and van tyre production gone from the Fort, that only leaves motorsports tyres, of which a mere 250,000 are made a year. The article in TYRES & ACCESSORIES 6/2000 outlines local reaction to the news and ends with the possibility of further bad news, as Goodyear is reported as saying that substantial further restructuring is still needed.
After Goodyear gave a profit warning for the second quarter its share prices fell yesterday by 10% to US$22.5; in June 1999 the price was US$58.7. The increase in raw material costs (rubber, oil, carbon black), the failure of securing better prices and extremely competitive prices in the UK and Germany, as well as the weak Euro against the dollar are the main reasons. US economy magazines yesterday wrote about the necessity for Goodyear to make immediate drastic moves over there (meaning Europe).
In Karlsruhe Michelin has introduced an Agricultural Service Centre for the three agricultural tyre brands Michelin, Kleber and Taurus. All questions from German customers regarding use and sale of tyres as well as mounted wheel and tyre systems will be answered.
Sales up till July seem to be in line with last years strong performance. Ford is one of the winners, GM is stagnating and Chrysler heavily losing market share. BMW, Porsche and some of the Japanese and Korean car manufacturers are performing particularly well.
Bridgestone has announced a sharp decline in net earnings for the first half of this year, which were US$ 178 m. The reason for the decline is the voluntary tyre recall in North America. Sales were down 4.8%, reaching US$ 9.35 for the first half year. The decline in the tyre sector was 5.9% and that in the non-tyre sector was only 1%. Operating profit fell by 7.6% to US$ 890 m. Interestingly, operating profit in the most profitable country, Japan, climbed once more, but operating profits in the Americas and Europe were well down.
First Stop is a partnership program of Bridgestone/Firestone Europe in cooperation with independent tyre dealers. The chain started five years ago in Scandinavia and Great Britain and now numbers about 1.100 Outlets in sixteen European countries. All the First Stop dealers have the same corporate identity with a black, grey and red livery. In Germany, the First Stop concept started one and a half years ago with perhaps 30 Outlets, based on the experiences gained in the other European countries and successful marketing measures at Germanys Bridgestone/Firestone own chain A3. Nowadays First Stop has 75 service stations all over Germany and plans for the end of 2000 to reach hundred - representing between 80 and 90 dealers. Marketing and advertisement support is part of the First Stop concept as well as training in technical, business administration and sales aspects. The efforts of the Bad Homburg headquarters also include car servicing (shock absorbers, brakes, exhausts and oil) which is not very strong at many German tyre stations. Also the cooperation guarantees benefits in the purchase of workshop equipment and other parts such as wheels. The dealers can also participate in a three phase tyre offer for cars (for trucks Bridgestone/Firestone developed the Truck Point system): the premium brand Bridgestone, the well known brand Firestone in medium segments, and FST 2000 tyres. FST 2000 is a car summer tyre in nearly 30 sizes from 135/80 R13T up to 195/50 R15V, produced only in Europe and exclusively distributed through its First Stop partners who need an offer for the end user who is more price-conscious. And of course the worlds leading rubber company guarantees best quality. Now Bridgestone/Firestone has added First Stop Winter to complete the program for the dealers. Details can be found in issue 10/2000 of NEUE REIFENZEITUNG.