A dozen tyre manufacturers in India have agreed to acquire domestically-sourced natural rubber at a price 25 per cent above that set in Bangkok. This arrangement was decided upon at a meeting on 18 December in the city of Thiruvananthapuram with Oommen Chandy, chief minister of India’s Kerala state. It was agreed that India’s Rubber Board will calculate the going price for rubber each day; this will be based on the international, Bangkok price, with an additional 20 per cent customs duty and five per cent purchase tax added to the international price. The chief minister’s office reports that the new pricing takes effect today and is valid until the end of March 2015.
Regional government ministers in India met with tyre makers on 18 December to discuss rubber prices. Chief minister of the state of Kerala, Oomen Chandy has chaired a meeting which proposed a minimum guaranteed price for rubber growers – a price of around Rs 125 to 130 (£1.25 to £1.30) per kilogramme was suggested. In recent times the price paid to Indian rubber growers has dipped as low as Rs 90 per kilogramme, a price considered unsustainable.
A little more than a year after the inauguration of its new plant in Rosario (Santa Fe province), Marangoni Argentina has further expanded its operations with the installation of a fifth 4-metre press for Unitread and Precauch flat pre-cure retread strips, plus two other presses for the production of Ringtreads. The presses will commence operation shortly.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which is a US state-funded economic development corporation that encourages the continued growth of the state’s auto industry, has booked a pavilion at Automechanika Shanghai. According to the show’s organisers, the Michigan government is keen to use Messe Frankfurt’s enormous industry resources to help foster its auto industry development as the show is an irreplaceable platform for the Michigan’s auto parts companies, which have the world’s leading advanced automotive parts research and development and manufacturing standards to showcase different areas of products and services at the show. It is also interesting to note in light of the ongoing tyre import trade dispute between the US and China.
The organisation representing India’s tyre makers has petitioned the country’s Finance Ministry to review its regional trade agreements and the duties charged under them. In a memorandum, the Automotive Tyre Manufacturers’ Association reiterated its long-standing claim that domestic manufacturers are being harmed by a double whammy of cheap, imported tyres and heavily-taxed raw material imports.
During the first quarter of the 2014 fiscal year, Michelin experienced a 3.4 per cent rise in volumes, with fast original equipment segment momentum and growth in the truck tyre business, while weak mining tyre sales were offset by growth in aviation and two-wheel tyre business within the specialty tyre segment. This increase in volumes did not translate to higher net sales, however.
Overall Michelin Group sales declined 2.4 per cent year-on-year to €4.76 billion.
Business within the European retreading market is being subjected to centrifugal forces. While the tyre majors who supplement their new tyre portfolios with mould cure retreaded lines increasingly monopolise the growing premium segment, the budget segment is also enjoying growing attention. Competition is stiff in both segments and mid-range suppliers find themselves under increasing pressure, and as a consequence are striving to reposition and – particularly on the flanks of their markets – more broadly position themselves. The latest company to introduce a clear multi-brand strategy is Bridgestone Bandag. Its “premium Bandag retreading brand” will retain its strong position at the upper end of the market, and has been joined by a new product line for the budget market: “Protread by Bandag”. Speaking with Tyres & Accessories, the company outlines its plans and motivations.
Pirelli has heavily invested in the commercial vehicle tyre segment for a number of years now. This investment has covered the development of technologically-advanced tyres and the company’s outstanding fleet segment service portfolio. The overall aim is to minimise vehicle operating costs, which today represents the central criterion for companies needing to mimimise cost per mile in order to remain competitive within their respective markets. Following this logic, retreading naturally plays an increasingly strategic role.
UK car producers have come out as strong supporters of Britain’s membership of the EU, and a new group has commissioned a major research study into the benefits of belonging to the trading block to underline the ramifications of a potential exit.
As Iranian business envoys court representatives of the various global markets at the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, details of the country’s recent tyre market development have also emerged. Of course, the Iranian enterprise bigwigs have been intent on smoozing with the self-styled “masters of the universe” in order to make business in-roads now that certain automotive and petrochemical economic sanctions have been lifted by the west. During a recent interview with the BBC one such envoy described Iran as a very developed and highly educated market poised for further development, but it also has to be said that the geo-political environment makes things complex.
No sooner had the US issued a modification to its initial determination in the Sino Legend (Zhangjiagang) Chemical Co., Ltd. and SI Group Inc. intellectual property case (on 16 January) then Sino Legend replied with a statement of its intent to continue with US imports of tyres featuring this product. According to Sino Legend, the commission ruled that the majority of SI Group’s alleged trade secrets are unprotectable and rejected SI’s request to exclude Sino Legend SL-1805 and SL-7015 resins from US import. The ITC is also said to have struck down the originally recommended general exclusion order.
The European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers Association (ETRMA) suggest the 2013 tyre replacement market stabilised in 2013 after a shaky start to the year. According to figures published 16 January, the car segment contracted 1 per cent to 192.699 million units in 2013. Total truck tyre sales were put at 8.849 million.
Commenting on the U.S. International Trade Commission’s extension of the antidumping and countervailing duty orders on certain off-the-road tyres produced in China, the United Steelworkers union says the decision to continue with the 2008-introduced tariffs is a “good outcome to provide job security for the hundreds of tyre workers who make these same tyre products at Titan Bridgestone-Firestone and Goodyear factories in Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Kansas and New York.”
With memories of Nokian’sill-fated alternative winter tyre label fresh in mind, I was interested to learn that Finnish tyre and vehicle test centre Testworld is making its own ice braking test result publically and freely available.