General Tire is celebrating its centenary this year. The company traces its origins to Akron, Ohio, where William F. O’Neill and his partner Winfred E. Fouse had the idea of producing superior quality tyres and founded the company in 1915. At the time, there were more than 300 companies making tyres in the USA. But unlike their competitors, from the outset the two partners put their faith in high quality, initially focusing on the truck market. Here they pioneered an oversized pneumatic tyre called the General Jumbo. Back in those days, trucks ran on solid rubber tyres and the pneumatic tyre was an innovation that soon caught on. A nationwide team of loyal, competent and independent dealers helped ensure that the brand rapidly proved a success.
Happy 100th, General Tire. This year marks the centenary of the brand’s debut, and although it has witnessed a few changes, and changes in fortune, in the past hundred years, the ‘General’ begins its second century in good shape and today boasts a wide range of car, 4×4, truck and industrial tyres.
The Tanzanian government has reiterated its commitment to restarting production at the General Tyre East African Limited (GTEA) factory before the end of this year.
The state-owned venture was once a significant player in the East African tyre market, along with Kenya’s former Firestone operation. According to local news sources, it started manufacturing tyres in 1971 and at its peak produced up to 1,200 tyres a day and employed over 4,000 workers.
General Tire will continue as official tyre of the Jeepspeed Desert Race Series after negotiating a new multi-year sponsorship deal. The Continental brand has served as official tyre to the series since 2008 and supplies its Grabber tyre to participating teams. It says the partnership “has allowed Jeepspeed to offer its competitors affordable racing within the Best in the Desert (BITD) Series, where budget-conscious racers can compete on the same race courses as the pros.” All Jeepspeed competition vehicles are fitted with Grabber tyres, in either 33 or 35-rim diameter. General Tire points out that the very same specification tyres are sold to the public.
Pakistan-based publication The International News reported on 29 October that The General Tyre and Rubber Company of Pakistan Limited, or Gentipak, will establish a new manufacturing facility in the country’s north. Details of this plan were given by company chairman Lt Gen (Retired) Ali Kuli Khan Khattak at a gathering to commemorate Gentipak’s half-century in Pakistan.
The proprietor of AJS Tyres and specialist AJS 4×4 in Lower Kingswood for over 35 years, Andy Sargeant was British Off Road Champion in 1989 and has competed in more off-road rallies than he cares to remember. He says the most important thing in any form of motorsport – or indeed in general driving – is to keep a full set of inflated tyres under your vehicle to have full control. So when he defeated the tough conditions of the recent Rallye des Cimes in his Defender 110 TD5 – the self-styled “Cimes Tractor” – the fact that he did it on the new General Tire Grabber MT made quite an impression. Sargeant says he will now pass on this experience to Land Rover owning customers.
Yokohama Tire Corporation has hired Andrew Zeisser as its new director of OE sales. In this role, Zeisser will be responsible for the company’s original equipment business in North America and will lead Yokohama Tire Corporation’s OE sales, engineering and quality functions. He will be based at the company’s Detroit, Michigan office.
In order to create an affinity with its well-armed target audience, General Tire has recruited a former Green Beret to star in a new US-market print advertising campaign. Grady Powell has signed on as the gun-toting protagonist in the new “Anywhere Is Possible” campaign, which will promote the Grabber tyre range in magazines such as Guns & Weapons, Combat Handguns, Tactical Weapons, and Recoil. The campaign begins in April 2013.
The Continental Tire Group’s General Tire brand has launched the successor to its Grabber UHP, with a new SUV tyre in its wide range most equipped to offer on-road performance, at an event in Gran Canaria for around 100 dealers representing 25 European countries. The largest single group amongst these guests was from the brand’s UK distributor, Micheldever Tyre Services and its customers. Visiting the last SEMA show in Las Vegas – “the home of 4×4” according to MTS wholesale director, Alan Baldwin – the wholesaler reported that General has a 4×4 market share into double figures, proving its significance in Europe, despite lacking the original equipment fitments that have come with nearly 100 years of American activity. The availability of General tyres suitable for Land Rover models, which dominate the UK 4×4 market, and the specific market focus of tyres like the Grabber AT have given the brand some notable success in the UK according to MTS marketing manager Amelia Lion – the newly launched Grabber GT taps into a different sort of European market specificity, namely the long-term tendency towards greater on-road performance.
General Tire has enhanced its already extensive range of 4×4 tyres by announcing the return of their legendary Grabber Mud Terrain tyre.
Aimed at both the professional and enthusiast consumer the Grabber Mud Terrain is a true off-road tyre, with a number of features and benefits. These include an aggressive open pattern design including stone ejector ribs, an aggressive open shoulder design and a rugged, 3 ply carcass construction giving excellent durability.
Production at Tanzanian tyre maker General Tyre East Africa will reportedly resume within a year. Last year management of the company – which hasn’t produced a tyre since 2007 – was placed in the hands of Tanzania’s National Development Corporation, and the corporation’s corporate affairs manager now says that investors from China, Malaysia and South Africa have shown interest in the getting the company up and running again.
Southam/Micheldever Tyres has added a new size to the General Grabber All-Terrain range. The 255/50R19 107H XL is suitable for Range Rover Sport, Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg to name just a few fitments.
Micheldever/Southam Tyres has added the new General Eurovan 2 to the General Tire product range. This means the new van range covers 88 per cent of the UK van sector. According to the company, the new Eurovan 2 is optimised to European road conditions through a combination of flat belt technology and tread design, ensuring high mileage performance and safety.
Tanzanian newspaper The Guardian reports its country’s government plans to hand over General Tyre East Africa to Tanzania’s National Development Corporation (NDC) in response to what it calls the “hard conditions” imposed by shareholder Continental AG. The country’s Industry and Trade Minister, Dr. Cyril Chami, is reported as saying talks with Continental, who holds a 24 per cent share in General Tyre East Africa, failed to reach a suitable conclusion. He attributes this lack of success to conditions Continental wishes to impose, such as restricting General Tyre’s activities to its domestic market and just two export destinations – Uganda and Burundi – and that the Tanzanian tyre maker should pay back its outstanding US$3.321 debt to Conti. Continental’s alleged lack of investment plans for General Tyre is another given factor.
A new General Tire application giving its North American customers quick access to an arsenal of product information and a database of pictures and videos has been approved by Apple and released into its iTunes Store, where it is available for free download. Within the General Tire app are five key functions, including Tire Descriptions, which feature sizing and pictures to help customers find the right tyre for their passenger car, light truck, off-road or commercial vehicle; Dealer Locators with maps to assist customers in finding the most convenient location to purchase General Tires; Team GT Race Videos; a Photo Gallery and a News/Promotions section. Off-road enthusiasts can watch the latest and greatest from Team GT and consumers can research the right General Tire for their car or truck.