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.
Honda will next week pause car production at its factory in Swindon; the third time it has done so in a little over a month. The Japanese car manufacturer said in a statement that output would be paused from Monday to Thursday next week, the longest such pause so far. It said that global supply disruption as a result of the coronavirus pandemic was responsible for the pause.
Bridgestone announced plans to close Béthune, France factory back in September 2020. Now, however, the location looks likely to retain a role in the broader automotive sector after the Japanese tyremaker reported that it has identified 24 opportunities relating to the future of the site. Two of the options relate the sale of the site to other tyre manufacturers. Five of the identified projects concern the installation of new activities on the site in tyre and rubber fields as well as batteries and other sectors. Two of the proposals relate to “the installation of activities outside the site”. Nine projects are said to be in the study phase.
Strong words from one of the unions representing workers at the Continental tyre factory in Aachen, Germany. Speaking with Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, IG BCE trade union chairman Michael Vassiliadis stressed that the planned job cuts “will be expensive”. He also claimed that Continental has turned away potential investors.
Financial analysts have reiterated their “buy” rating on Continental AG shares, while also raising price target from 150 euros from 123 euros previously. In short, Continental AG is expected to continue outperforming consensus estimates. Writing in an investors note dated 18 November, Jefferies equity research said: “Tyre margins will return to an industry leading greater than 15 per cent in full-year 2021. Conti remains among the least liked stocks in the sector which provides positive surprise potential.”
Bridgestone has confirmed its intention to close the Béthune tyre plant in France. The country’s Secretary of State for Economy and Finance, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, shared news about the decision yesterday. She tweeted that Bridgestone has “closed the door to continuing its activity in Béthune” and confirmed the plant’s closure. She added that the French government would work with employees to find a solution for everyone.
Following consultations with workers and unions, Bridgestone South Africa (BSAF) has finalised the process to close down its tyre manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. The plant’s last day of operation will be 15 November. Bridgestone announced its intention to close the facility in August.
The union representing employees at a closure-threatened Continental factory has responded angrily to the decision, accusing Continental of “sacrificing” a “profitable tyre plant” as part of its savings programme. The IG BCE union particularly doesn’t understand the logic behind this step as it claims the tyre business in Aachen has achieved “double-digit” profit margins over the years and even operated in the black during the corona lockdown.
According to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), UK car manufacturing output fell 20.8 per cent in July, with just 85,696 units rolling off production lines during the month. Despite the continued ramp-up of production and reopening of almost all factories following the easing of lockdown measures, social distancing measures and ongoing economic uncertainty still stifled output. Today’s figures follow news that BMW intends to lay off 400 of the 950 agency personnel working at its Mini factory in Oxford.
Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) has announced that it is to axe 160 jobs at its Scottish facilities at Falkirk and Larbert. The news comes just one month after the company said that up to 650 jobs were at risk at its sites in the UK.
Bridgestone Southern Africa (BSAF) has announced that it will close its bias tyre manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth, a decision affecting 252 employees. The move is in line with the company’s plans to focus on premium profitable growth segments. The Port Elizabeth plant is geared towards the production of older bias tyres, which are globally in decline and being phased out in South Africa, due to their unprofitability. BSAF is also feeling the effects of a shrinking economy and an influx of cheap imports, leading to its operational restructuring plan. It added that the conversion of the plant to produce radial tyres would require a multi-billion-rand investment, which it deemed unfeasible in the current economy.
Workers at Michelin’s Dundee plant are leaving for the final time today as the manufacturer ends its half-century of operations in the city. The final Dundee-made Michelin tyre was produced on 23 March, as the Coronavirus pandemic interrupted the planned closure of the site. The Unite union agreed to the early end to production, with Michelin honouring all wage commitments until the final closure date, 30 June. The 2018 decision to close the factory was informed by the rapid increase in consumers’ preference for lower-cost alternatives within the smaller size range the factory was equipped to produce. Michelin supported efforts to find employment for staff at the factory, including the relaunch of Michelin Development, which aimed to create hundreds of jobs in Dundee and Angus.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries, the manufacturer of the global Falken tyre brand has temporarily shut down its factory in South Africa on government orders. All of its other tyre manufacturing facilities are currently operational, though staff at the Falken Tyre Europe headquarters in Germany are working remotely where possible, or following social distancing guidelines.