Germany’s position as a centre of manufacturing took another blow today with the confirmation that Michelin will gradually cease production at its Karlsruhe and Trier sites, as well as the manufacture of new tyres and semi-finished products in Homburg. Michelin will also transfer its Customer Contact Center from Karlsruhe to Poland. These changes are expected to be completed by the end of 2025 and will impact a total of 1,532 employees.
Those of us living in countries that have experienced extensive deindustrialisation may be able to commiserate with workers in Germany’s tyre plants, including the many who have received unsettling news of late. Michael Berthel, chief economist of the German Rubber Manufacturers’ Association (WdK), recently commented that “the situation is not entirely healthy” – and this may be an understatement. Berthel believes an uncertain future awaits more than half of Germany’s tyre manufacturing locations.
Goodyear has confirmed that ending tyre production at its Fulda and Fürstenwalde factories in Germany will be recorded as a charge of “between $575 million and $600 million”. Of that, $425 million to $450 million is “primarily for associate-related costs and other exit costs”. The remainder represents “non-cash charges of approximately $150 million” related to “…accelerated depreciation”.
Bridgestone Corporation completed the consolidation of its tyre manufacturing operation in Thailand today with the end of truck and bus radial production at its Rangsit plant. Bridgestone Tire Manufacturing (Thailand) Co. Ltd’s Chonburi facility has taken over this production capacity.
In response to a “rapidly and profoundly” changing passenger vehicle market in North America, Michelin has decided to end production at its Ardmore tyre plant in Oklahoma. Michelin North America idled operations at the factory from the morning of 26 October to begin the process of presenting details to the workforce. It expects to resume operations early on 28 October, but “over the coming days and weeks” Michelin representatives will discuss separation conditions with each individual employee.
Despite a first-quarter 2023 net loss of $101 million, down $197 million compared with $96 million of positive income 12 months ago, Goodyear executives tried to shine a positive light on the US-based tyremaker’s latest financial results. Volumes may have been 3.2 million units lower than the same period last year at 41.8 million units, but net sales grew 1 per cent compared with the first quarter of 2022 and 4 per cent excluding foreign currency effects. And Goodyear EMEA is back to breakeven, but that wasn’t enough to avoid talk of accelerated cost-cutting measures.
The Borbet wheel factory in Solingen, Germany will close on 31 December 2022. The wheel manufacturer told its workforce on Monday 28 November at a works meeting. Around 600 employees are affected. All previous attempts to find an economically viable future for the location had failed. A transfer company will be set up.
Bridgestone Corporation has announced plans to consolidate its aircraft tyre retreading operations in Asia. At the end of June 2023, it will close the Bridgestone Aircraft Tire Company (Asia), Ltd. operation in Hong Kong and transfer production to its Bridgestone Aircraft Tire Manufacturing (Thailand) Co., Ltd. facility in Chonburi, Thailand. The closure of the plant in Hong Kong will affect 102 employees.
Following reports that Continental had sold its South Africa agricultural tyre production assets, company representatives have confirmed that the plant ceased operation a little more than two years ago.
Bridgestone Corporation has announced plans to close three of its non-tyre production facilities. The Shikoku, Gifu and Gotemba plants in Japan, operated by Bridgestone Diversified Chemical Products, will respectively close in Q3 2022, Q1 2023 and Q2 2023, with their output taken up by the business’s remaining six facilities. Bridgestone expects that the 83 employees at the three plants will continue working for Bridgestone Diversified Chemical Products.
Tyre production at the Continental plant in Aachen, Germany will cease at the end of next year, if not earlier. This is one of the outcomes of talks between the company and representatives of Aachen plant employees. Continental has also published details of upcoming retraining programmes.
Pirelli has reaffirmed its commitment to “maintaining industrial operations” at both its Carlisle and Burton-on-Trent UK factories after unions suggested the company was about to close its MIRS robotic production line in Burton. According to Unite, which represents all 280 members of the Burton tyre factory workforce, Pirelli has proposed cutting 80 jobs. In a statement published on 11 February 2021, Unite criticised Pirelli for “not taking up the furlough scheme for these workers, instead of pushing ahead with the redundancies.”
Bridgestone Corporation has shared details of its Mid-Term Business Plan for the three-year period from 2021 to 2023, and this plan entails significant changes for the company’s manufacturing footprint. In a presentation given by chief executive officer Shu Ishibashi, Bridgestone outlines the direction this restructuring will take.
Toyo Tire Corporation is closing its loss-making wholly-owned Silverstone Berhad Malaysian tyre manufacturing subsidiary in June 2021. Established on 12 July 1986 and purchased by Toyo in 2011, Silverstone currently manufactures tyres for (primarily Malaysian) new vehicles and Silverstone branded tyres for the aftermarket as well as certain Toyo branded tyres. The dissolution of the Silverstone subsidiary (Silverstone Berhad) will commence by 31 December 2021.
The latest temporary closure of Honda’s Swindon plant because of parts shortages could be the “tip of the iceberg” for new car supply issues in 2021, the Vehicle Remarketing Association is warning. Chair Philip Nothard said that the problem, believed to be caused by poor availability of semiconductors, was potentially a sign of things to come from all manufacturers.