Outlining Bridgestone Corporation’s Mid-Long Term Business Strategy on 22 December, chief executive officer Shu Ishibashi spoke of the company’s plans through to 2023. The immediate priority has been to implement crisis management measures to address the impact of COVID-19; Bridgestone began implementing these in 2020, and the measures extend into this year. Beyond this, Bridgestone will work to rebuild earning power within the core Tire & Rubber business.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries has been working together with Japan’s Gunma University since last year to develop a system that remotely monitors tyre pressure in driverless vehicles. The tyre maker reports that, having created a system that works with Level 4 autonomous vehicles, it conducted a successful proof-of-concept test of this new system on public roads on 12 November.
As of 1 January 2021, Bridgestone Corporation will retire its current five-layer executive operation structure and adopt a three-layer structure in its place. The company states that it is adopting this new executive structure to “accelerate decision-making and transform into a leaner organisation.”
Shares in Japanese firms hit a 30-year high after Joe Biden was named as the president-elect of the US in a phenomenon being called the “Biden bounce”. Tokyo’s Nikkei index rose 2.6 per cent when the market opened on 9 November. It closed up 2.1 per cent at a level not seen since 1991.
Marubeni is well-known for its range of tyre-related investment interests. While the conglomerate began in Japan, recent additions in Russia and US-based Tyrata demonstrate the diversity of its tyre-related portfolio.
Tyrata Inc. and Marubeni Corporation are collaborating in the distribution of Tyrata’s IntelliTread drive-over tread-depth reading system. Specifically, Marubeni will be introducing the technology to its customer base in Japan. Marubeni will begin selling units in Japan in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI), manufacturer of the Falken tyre brand, recently began proof-of-concept testing for a new kind of tyre pressure management solutions service that remotely monitors tyre pressure and temperature. Through this testing project, SRI will evaluate the service’s efficacy in supporting safer driving, specifically its effectiveness in reducing maintenance time and workload and preventing operator error. SRI says the project contributes towards its “ultimate aim” of establishing a business model that “helps to enhance the safety and economy of driving.”
GRI has developed what is purportedly Sri Lanka and the company’s first winter off-the-road (OTR) tyre for the Japanese market. Designed in collaboration with its Japanese partner, the Gripex Snow tyre is designed to withstand the winter weather and distinct terrain of Hokkaido prefecture in northern Japan. The new tyre is fitted on vehicles used in sub-zero temperatures in order to offer “optimal traction and higher stability on snow”.
The Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd’s first half 2020 profit might have declined 92.5 per cent compare with the same period of the previous year to 1.3 billion yen (£9.321 million; 10.322 million euros, US$12.220 million), but the company did remain profitable as all tyre manufacturers have faced serious headwinds due to coronavirus. Operating profit fell 86.8 per cent to 2.9 billion yen. And salves fell 20.6 per cent to 247.1 billion yen.
In the first quarter of 2020 Toyo Tire Corporation reported net sales of 82,094 million yen a decrease of 8,049 million yen (-9.8 per cent) compared with the first quarter of 2019. Its operating income for the quarter was 6,936 million compared to 10,174 million yen (-31.87%) in the first quarter of 2019.
Tokai Carbon has raised prices across all grades of carbon black effective 1 May 2020 by 6 yen a kilogram. According to the company, the price increase is because “Due to the impact of tighter regulations on bunker fuel oil sulphur content by international Marine Organization (IMO), the index used in previous price revisions can no longer be used.
The shutdowns and deteriorating demand in the automotive sector have caused GlobalData to revise its North American and European light vehicle (LV) production forecasts for 2020 and beyond. This is a stark illustration of how serious the COVID-19 crisis, which has caused sales to whither and shuttered manufacturing plants, is becoming for the automotive industry, says data and analytics company, GlobalData.
Eight Bridgestone tyre plants in Japan will soon shut down for six production days in response to decreased demand. In addition, the company is closing three non-tyre production facilities for up to four days.