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.
Krupp Elastomertechnik was created in 1996 by the merger of the company Werner & Pfleiderer Gummitechnik in Freudenberg and the rubber technology division of Krupp Kunststofftechnik. Thus two companies were united which, by their own admission, had cooperated in technology for a long time. This offers the rubber processing industry the opportunity of a one-stop shop, as it claims to a large extent to cover all essential preparation and process stages. According to Krupp, all machines, facilities and systems are the product of computer-aided development and construction on modern machine tools and manufacturing facilities and are installed and thoroughly checked before being handed over. In the recent past various new and advanced developments at Krupp Elastomer GmbH were particularly aimed at consolidating and improving the market position of the company. Largest market shares overall are held in Europe, but that does not mean that other regions of the world are less important to the company. For example Asia, which has so far produced 40 p.c. of the total turnover. At present this market is not too prosperous although there are a few positive signs, but that deficiency was almost made up by comparatively good sales in Europe, since the boom in the motor manufacturing industry and therefore in tyre production also benefits machine manufacturers. For the current year further growth in tyre sales figures is generally expected, at least in Germany. That should herald a bright future for machine manufacturers in the tyre industry, shouldn’t it?
From 9th to 13th November 1999 all eyes of Europe’s agricultural industry were again on Hanover, where the eighth (since 1985) international DLG trade fair for agricultural technology, Agritechnica ‘99 was held on the site of the future Expo, the third time in succession at this venue. The German Agricultural Society (DLG) as organisers reported an impressive number of bookings: 1,500 companies in total (531 of them from abroad) presented a complete agricultural programme at the Hanover exhibition centre, an increase in exhibitor numbers of nearly 14 p.c. over 1997, the date of the last such fair. The total exhibition area was also extended by almost 20 p.c. since 1997, to 190,000 square metres. Agritechnica also reported the strong presence of the tyre industry, led of course by the Big Three in the tractor field, Michelin, Kléber and Pirelli (the latter now under its new name Trelleborg Wheel Systems), which in the last few years almost carved up the lucrative original equipment business in tractor drive-wheel tyres between them. Now other suppliers, Continental, Goodyear, Firestone and Taurus try to muscle in on the OE business. With the sole exception of Firestone they were all present at Agritechnica, as were Vredestein, Alliance, Danubiana (Tofan Grup) and Titan.
Michelin Reaps Benefits of Bridgestone and Goodyear Mistakes in the USA
The current winner in the American car tyre replacement business is Michelin. On the one hand, the French profit from the catastrophic supply situation of their two main competitors, Goodyear and Bridgestone, which achieve so-called fill rates of 60 p.c. or even less, but they also reap the benefits of the successful introduction and implementation of their multi-brand strategy, which has made a demand management possible. In contrast to their big competitors the French have a very clear brand policy with no further differentiation within a brand, and they no longer produce private brands, all of which considerably shortens the reaction time to changed market conditions. Goodyear and Bridgestone cannot achieve Michelin prices. The groups will not improve their unsatisfactory fill rates as long as they also manufacture large quantities of private brands. The Japanese cannot develop a multi-brand strategy since they lack a strong leading brand – Bridgestone not being blessed with a high degree of brand awareness everywhere in the USA. For a long time the Americans differentiated very strongly within the Goodyear brand; now they have to position Dunlop tyres as well. That will also mean the need for significant investment in the brands. Furthermore, Goodyear managers in particular are currently confronted by a hostile gut reaction from the trade, whether capable of rational explanation is neither here nor there.
Nokian: Turnover Up 20% In First Nine Months Of 1999
Finnish tyre manufacturer Nokian has achieved a net turnover of 199 million Euros in the first nine months of this year; an increase of around 20 %. Operating profit is 18.4 million Euros (9 % lower than the previous year). Nokian is pursuing a strategy of expansion and, this year, will invest some 31 million Euros, with the aim of increasing production capacity by 50% within five years. At the moment, Nokian is trying to purchase ISKO, Finlands largest tyre dealer with a turnover of approximately 65 million Euros. Analysts say that ISKO is financially very strong and very profitable.
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.
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.
Dunlop’s SP Sport 200 E has been given the Blue Angel quality seal of approval for nine sizes. The Blue Angel adheres to very strict guidelines and is especially for environment-friendly products and processes whose user qualities and safety aspects are in no way inferior to conventional products. Recipients are chosen by independent institutions. This new car tyre (speed indices H and V) is awarded the eco seal for qualities such as low noise level, the light weight of the product, fuel saving and reduced emissions thanks to its optimised rolling resistance. Dunlop’s winter tyre SP Winter Sport M 2 is currently being tested for exceptional environment-friendliness.
Not many years ago the large tyre manufacturers still thought they had better make haste and claim a stake in the apparently huge markets of China and India, since life does not favour latecomers. Their enthusiasm was kindled by the example of some car manufacturers, which quickly calculated and estimated a gigantic (sales) potential in these two countries alone with their joint populations of two billion. Some car manufacturers learnt quickly that opportunities are not limitless. Tyre manufacturers fared similarly. Pirelli supplied China with some know-how, which was gratefully received but did not provide Pirelli with a strong base. Nor did the Italians make money out of the technology transfer. Conti’s big plans for India are hardly mentioned any more. The Big Three – Goodyear, Bridgestone and Michelin – are present in both countries, but business is quiet. In India, 29 manufacturers run 41 factories with a maximum capacity of about 43 million tyres, but only 34 million pieces were manufactured in 1997/98, most of them (73 p.c.) for trucks and buses. And 60 p.c. of passenger car tyres are still cross-ply tyres, 1998 has only seen 3,3 million radials in this segment. Our British sister magazine TYRES &ACCESSORIES reported on the Indian tyre market at length; we publish an excerpt in this issue in our December issue, including a brief presentation of some individual companies active in this market.
Four years ago Südrad Autoräder GmbH und Co. KG had to call in the receiver, who in the meantime sold the aluminium wheel division of the company. Now the steel wheel production at Ebersbach has also found a new owner in the guise of Mefro Räderwerk Ronneburg GmbH. In 1999 Südrad with 600 employees will produce approximately five million car steel wheels as well as steel wheels for trucks and light trucks. The turnover is given as 140 million marks, and Südrad is back in the black now that the restructuring measures have been completed. Mefro had its origins in a wheel combine of the former GDR and now has an annual production of approximately two million steel wheels for agricultural and construction site vehicles as well as for industrial vehicles and fork lift trucks. With a workforce of about 220 employees Mefro has an annual turnover of approximately 60 million marks.
The Technic Group - at one time the worlds biggest passenger car tyre retreader - is the latest company to succumb to the fall in demand for car retreads. Hopes that the Technic group would be sold as a going concern proved to be unfounded. The Administrative Receiver said: Since we were appointed, the company has continued to accumulate losses. Despite some early indications of interest, no offers were received for the business and we can see no realistic prospect of receiving an offer against a difficult background in the retread market. As a result we have no option but to close the business. 200 of the 250 employees have received redundancy notices and the Receivers will seek to dispose of the companys assets.
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.
With a fuel consumption of less than three litres per hundred kilometres (approximately 95mpg) the new Volkswagen Lupo TDI sets new standards. The reduced consumption has been achieved by a combination of various measures; the use of light-weight forged wheels by Fuchs is for instance a contributory factor to the reduced weight of the vehicle. On the tyre side, Bridgestone/Firestone has scored in original equipment with the B 381 Ecopia, size 155/65 R14 75T. The name, made up from ecology and utopia is also the statement of a programme, which will exploit experience gained in the construction of this tyre for future Bridgestone/Firestone products. The tyre manufacturer achieved weight reduction by using aramid instead of steel in the belt and light-weight polyester in the casing. Thanks to its clever rubber compound formula the tyre’s rolling resistance has also been optimised and at the same time has fulfilled the tyre manufacturer’s ecologically motivated desire for noise reduction. As an equivalent for the winter season Bridgestone recommends the WT 12 tread pattern.