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).
The contact area between tyre and road surface is generally compared to the size of a postcard. An area, whose smallness bears no relation to its importance as the central spot where the interaction between motorcar and supporting ground takes place. Generations of experts have thought long and hard how to optimise this A6-sized contact area in the interest of road safety. The 21st and 22nd October saw the beginning of a new round in the eternal quest for more knowledge. On these dates the seventh conference in twelve years of the Association of German Engineers (VDI) took place under the headline Reifen – Fahrwerk – Fahrbahn (Tyres – Chassis – Road Surface) at the Hanover Congress Centre. As at several earlier meetings, the wheel was not studied in isolation but as the link between chassis and road surface. The central theme of the meeting was therefore the interaction between those three components. Each lecture or discussion session consisted of three half-hour presentations grouped together under subject matters such as Reciprocal influences between tyres and road surface, Tyre noise, Measuring and devising models, Warning and run-flat systems, Vibration and comfort as well as Chassis concepts. Almost 225 VDI members from the sectors of research and manufacturing had accepted the invitation. Apart from many car manufacturers the tyre industry was also well represented in Hanover and thanks to the disciplined lecturing techniques and to well-informed and motivated questions from the public the conference was able to live up as a genuine discussion forum to a large extent.
Talking to the German newspaper Handelsblatt, Hankook President Choong-Hwan said that the Korean tyre manufacturer wants to strengthen its market position in Europe. Having already expanded with two factories in China, Hankook plans to produce tyres in the EU as well. This will be achieved either by building a new factory or acquiring existing facilities.
The management has undertaken an upward revision of the turnover and profit forecasts. Due to increased turnover all business divisions were able to improve their margins, but it seems that General Tire did not entirely come up to the expectations of institutional investors. The Teves result (half-yearly turnover: 1.278 billion euros, EBIT: 27 million euros) came as a pleasant surprise to banking circles. After the first six months group turnover reached 4.449 billion euros, and the EBIT of 263 million euros was roughly ten per cent above expectations. Stock exchange experts value the potential of the Continental share with 25 to 26 euros, which has as yet not been realised. The slightly worrying aspect is the fear that Continental could be lumped together with other, normal tyre manufacturers, e.g. Michelin, Goodyear and Pirelli, which produced rather sobering results.
Goodyear: Gibara Announces New Multi-Brand Strategy
The differentiation within the Goodyear brand, which has been most conspicuous in North America, will soon be a thing of the past. On Thursday Gibara declared in front of analysts in New York that the Goodyear brand will in future only be a premium brand; the group’s range will be complemented by Dunlop (medium brand) and Kelly (economy/budget brand).
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.
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.
Finland has followed its neighbour Sweden by passing a law which means that, from 1st December to 29th February, all cars in Finland must be fitted with M+S tyres, having a minimum tread depth of at least three millimetres. The law applies not only to Finnish motorists, but to foreign drivers too.
The Vredestein NV group consists of five companies with activities in car, transporter, agricultural and industrial as well as bicycle tyres, boots for consumer markets and industrial applications, recycled rubber, compounds and sealing extrusions. The company employs about 2,200 people in total. The first half of 1999 developed according to forecast, with net profits increased to 600,000 euros – 200,000 euros more than in the first half of 1998. Consolidated net turnover yields rose by ten per cent from 98.1 million euros to 108 million euros, and during the period in question cash-flow was up by 1.1 million to 9.9 million euros. Vredestein Banden’s turnover increased during the first quarter due to the long winter and the resulting good opportunities for selling winter tyres. The first half year was characterised by the Sportrac introduction, a new tyre for the high speed sector (up to 240 km/h) developed in close conjunction with Guigiaro Design, the renowned Italian designer firm. Sales of the new Sportrac have exceeded expectations, according to the manufacturer. Several sizes are not yet available, so the impact of its introduction should be felt in full during the second half of 1999. In the agricultural tyre sector the recently launched AS radial (Traxion+) was well received. Industrial tyre sales developed positively. An important part of the Vredestein group’s annual result is traditionally achieved in the second half of the year, mainly due to the strong influence of Vredestein Banden’s winter tyre sales. Assuming that economic conditions remain stable in the most important European markets, the company is optimistic that it will once again be able to increase last year’s profit.
Goodyear, who stopped supplying tyres for Formula 1 last season, has announced that, from next year, it will no longer supply tyres to the Indy Racing League (IRL) and Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) in the USA. The company will concentrate on other forms of racing, such as NASCAR. Stu Grant, general manager for global race tyres, said that the decision will be reviewed and that he would not rule out a return to IRL, CART, nor Formula 1 competition.
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.
Assuming the approval of the Competition Commission, the Danish tyre dealer and retreading company Viborg Gruppen together with the British Legal & General Ventures Limited (LGV) will take over all the tyre distribution activities (150 service centres) of Gummi-Mayer retrospectively from 30th September 1999. The integration of Gummi-Mayer into the existing companies of Viborg Gruppen will create the largest independent distribution and service company in the European tyre business. At the beginning of the year Viborg/LGV took over the tyre distribution activities of Stinnes AG in Germany, Holland, France, Austria and Switzerland and now has a close-knit Europe-wide service net. The sale includes all domestic tyre distribution and service activities trading in Germany under the names Gummi-Mayer and Autechna. All employees will be retained by Viborg, which has the right to the use of the Gummi-Mayer name initially for a period of ten years. Pending the approval of the Competition Commission, Gummi-Mayer will continue to be run by Hans and Franz Mayer. After the incorporation of Gummi-Mayer Viborg Gruppen will have a turnover of nearly 1.4 billion marks with more than 3,000 employees.