Elliott Investment Management L.P.’s 11 May open letter to Goodyear’s board of directors sent shockwaves through the company and the markets. Essentially, Elliott’s expounded on its “deep conviction in the opportunity for Goodyear to improve after more than a decade of underperformance”, which was widely interpreted as laying down the gauntlet to Goodyear’s board and most senior executives. With Elliott calling pistols at dawn in the mid-west, the question is: is it time to buckle up and circle the wagons in Akron or are vultures circling over Goodyear? Here, Tyres & Accessories presents an in-depth analysis of Elliott’s arguments for enormous change, critically evaluating the problematic areas Elliott identifies along the way. In order to support our analysis, we spoke to senior executives close to Goodyear, those with first-hand management experience in Akron, financial analysts and third-party market researchers.
Avon Tyres entered the Goodyear fold in 2021 and was integrated into the wider group of brands over the following year. Its new owner considers Avon “one of the motorcycle industry’s longest-established tyre brands” and now plans a “fresh focus” for the British marque with a “reinvigorated approach.” At the same time, Goodyear says the Avon brand will remain a key part of its portfolio in the passenger vehicle segment.
Following reports that Avon is set to become a two-wheel/motorcycle-only tyre brand in Germany in the future, Goodyear representatives have sought to clarify that the Avon brand will remain in the company’s product portfolio both for passenger and motorcycle tyres.
Following Goodyear’s takeover of Cooper and the integration of the German Cooper sales organization in Goodyear Germany, the German wing of Gooodyear EMEA has added two more logos to its product portfolio, those of the Cooper and of Avon brands. However, the German introduction of the latter is bringing with it significant changes in the Avon brand’s positioning.
Wiltshire politicians and Unite union representatives have reacted to the news that Cooper Tire plans to end tyre production at its Melksham plant by the end of 2023. Speaking to local news source, the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald, Michelle Donelan, MP for Chippenham, offered her support to workers, while Melksham’s mayor emphasised the longevity and importance of the manufacturing site in the town’s history. With the plant’s 350-strong workforce represented by Unite, union leader Tony Hulbert railed against the timing of the announcement, given the UK’s spiralling cost-of-living crisis.
Following the news that it is consulting on the closure of the Cooper Melksham tyre factory, Goodyear has announced that it is set to invest 16.5 million euros into the “modernisation” of its Montluçon, France tyre production plant over the next 18 months. The news also marks the end of light truck tyre production at Montluçon. Prior to the announcement, the production of two-wheel tyres accounted for 50 per cent of the site’s activity and the site has also made motorsport tyres during its recent history.
The Cooper Tire & Rubber Company Europe plans to close its UK tyre manufacturing plant in Melksham, Wiltshire by the end of 2023. The company will now begin a consultation process on the proposed closure involving 350 Cooper employees and the relevant employee representative bodies. Previous cutbacks at Cooper’s Melksham plant, one of the few new tyre producers remaining in the UK, were announced in 2018. Car and SUV tyre manufacturing were moved to newer facilities in the company’s manufacturing footprint, such as its plant in Serbia. The remaining functions of the site were the production of motorsport and motorcycle tyres, as well as the company’s Europe headquarters and Technical Center. The merger of Cooper and its new parent company The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company was finalised in June 2021 following the announcement of its acquisition in February. Goodyear approved a plan to streamline its global administrative structure in the second quarter of 2022.
After a Covid-enforced delay, Auto Express has published its 2021 Summer Tyre Test, with Hankook leading a list of nine top tyre brands. Each of the nine tyres displayed strengths in at least one of the test segments. The UK magazine used Continental’s Contidrom proving ground near Hanover in Germany to conduct its objective performance tests, enlisting the help of a local independent tyre tester to get around travel restrictions in the country before verifying the results. The problems of testing tyres in Europe with rules around travel in flux also affected the way Auto Express was able to get tyres to the proving ground; rather than acquire tyres on the open market, it asked manufacturers to send sets, verifying the test-topping tyres against regular production models after the fact. The magazine used the size 225/45 R17, as it had previously in 2018 – a very popular UK size for compact to medium-sized family cars, and in this case one fitted to the tyre test mainstay Volkswagen Golf.
13-time Grand Prix winner David Coulthard has slammed the current generation of Formula One tyres, which are supplied by Pirelli. Speaking in an interview with RaceFans.net, Coulthard said Pirelli era tyres resulted in boring races: “This whole Pirelli era is just confusing to me and boring to me to have to talk about, and super-boring for me to have to listen to the drivers going ‘I was trying to avoid pushing too hard on the tyres’.”
Avon Tyres and two-time Isle of Man TT race winner and former British Supersport champion Steve Plater has become brand ambassador for Avon’s motorcycle tyre range. Avon has been working closely with Plater in recent months to enhance the 3D Ultra Xtreme and 3D Ultra Xtreme Slick products. Designed and manufactured in the UK, the 3D Ultra Xtreme and 3D Ultra Xtreme Slick, along with the wet-weather 3D Ultra Xtreme Rain Racer, are high-performance tyres developed with demanding track use in mind. Cooper has previously introduced brand ambassadors for particular product ranges, like Formula 1’s David Coulthard, who represented Cooper UHP tyres.
The working relationship between Avon Tyres and motorcycle manufacturer KTM continues in 2021 with the selection of Avon tyres for the new KTM 890 Adventure. This successor to the 790 Adventure – which also wore Avon tyres – comes with the Avon Trailrider as standard in a 21-inch front wheel size (90/90-21) and 18-inch rear (150/70 R18).
Avon Tyres are featured as part of a faithful restoration of a motorcycle previously ridden by stunt performer Evel Knievel. The 1968-spec ‘American Eagle’ Laverda, a bike on which Knievel made a host of jumps during the late 1960s and early 1970s, has gone on display at the Evel Knievel Museum in Topeka, Kansas. The restored Laverda was formally rolled into the museum on Friday, 6 November, where it was placed alongside other iconic items, such as Knievel’s original Mack Truck. It will remain on show for a period of two years, prior to being returned to the owner.
The TVR Car Club (TVRCC) has named Avon its preferred tyre brand. As part of the new collaboration, Avon Tyres’ long-standing relationship with British sports car manufacturer TVR will be celebrated through a number of joint initiatives, while TVRCC members are eligible for a discount on Avon tyre purchases.