The Korean tyre manufacturer Hankook is developing three tyre sizes for Renault. These are 155/65-14 and 165/70-14 reinforced for the Twingo and size 185/65-15 for the Kangoo. First deliveries will start at the end of next year. At present the major OE-suppliers to Renault are Michelin, Continental and Dunlop.
Kleber is introducing its new Dynaxer DR series of tyres, in 31 different sizes, for wheels from 14″ to 18″ and H, V and W speed ratings. The new tyres have been developed from the previous generation Dynaxer DR 502 and 503 series of tyres, with the emphasis being placed on three core areas; the compound, the mould design and the optimisation of the tread pattern. The compound has been chosen for its properties in grip and wear and the tread pattern designed for maximum water evacuation – these features make the Dynaxer an excellent wet-weather performer. A large number of tread blocks means lower noise and lateral grooves positioned along the tread pattern’s flow lines allows the even dispersion of water, giving peace of mind, whatever the weather. The mould contributes to the tyre’s good wear rate, thanks to its ability to evenly distribute the pressures enforced. This contributes too to reduced tyre noise and ride comfort. At the same time as the new tyre is introduced, Kleber has revamped its logo. The new logo is said to reflect Kleber’s three core values of peace of mind, serenity and reliability and is aimed at the trade and general public alike. Although not the most famous name in tyres, Kleber claims to be Europe’s sixth-best-selling range and has OE contracts with such manufacturers as Audi, Renault, Peugeot and Vauxhall.
It is expected to be confirmed at the Geneva Motor Show that Renault is to be the first manufacturer to offer Michelin’s PAX system as an option on a high-volume production vehicle – from the middle of this year, PAX will be available as an option on the Renault Scénic. The tyre on the PAX system will be called SPACITY, and a version of the Alpin winter tyre will be available later on in the year.
Automotive supplier TRW has received orders worth 900 million US-Dollars from Renault (for the Megane) and Fiat (for the Stilo), concerning the production of Electrically Assisted Steering systems (EAS) for this year and beyond. These new contracts bring TRW’s volume for EAS-systems in 2001 up to 500 million US-Dollars. The steering-systems for Fiat will be developed in Birmingham and produced in Livorno (Italy). The steering system for Renault will be developed and manufactured in Pamplona (Spain).
More and more tyre dealers ask for the tyre pressure control systems with which the newest car models are fitted as original equipment. They are annoyed at getting no satisfactory answer, even from the car dealers selling these cars. One of the problems is that there is no standardised system. Most European car manufacturers are using as a basic a system from supplier Beru, for example with valves from Alligator. But the French car makers went down different development paths with other suppliers, for example Valeo and valve-sub supplier Schrader. The systems are completely different! If it is not possible for the Europeans to find a common level of tyre wheel systems with tyre pressure monitoring sub systems how difficult might it be to find harmony with the car makers from Japan/Korea and North America? The tyre pressure controlling systems situation is constantly changing, but we are painting a picture of the situation today. For example to secure the function of the newest Renault Laguna II the car maker explains that you must use only original parts – for example only Renault wheels. Using different wheels makes it impossible to fix the sensors and the function of the system is interrupted. If this were to become typical the free workshops (car repair stations, fast fitters or tyre dealers) will be unable to take part in the new technologies and the only workshops working with the systems, repairing details and replacing parts, will be the workshops of the car manufacturers.
French car manufacturer Renault has recalled 25,000 of its Kangoo cars, equipped with Kléber tyres, due to quality problems with the tyres. It is expected that Kléber will release further details shortly.
There is unanimity amongst financial institutes that anyone with investments in automotive shares should be very careful of their investments. The coming quarter does not look too promising; BMW, Peugeot/Citroën, Porsche and Renault (particularly thanks to Nissan’s better than expected results), should hold their position, but there seems to be no end in sight to the decline at DaimlerChrysler.
Renault is negotiating with Samsung Motors, of South Korea, to buy the latter’s Pusan plant (production capacity 200,000) for Euro 400 million. Renault’s daughter company RVI, made an offer to Daewoo to buy its truck operation (production capacity 20,000) and bus operations (production capacity 6,000 units) for Euro 700 million. Renault has already bought a 37% stake in Nissan for around Euro 5 billion and the new plans will bring the company’s investment in Asia to more than Euro 6 bn.
The Nissan factory in Barcelona is not working to capacity and is the obvious candidate for joint production work in similarly built Renault models, according to a statement at the Detroit Motor Show by Carlos Ghosn, ex-Michelin manager, now responsible for the integration of Nissan with Renault. Vehicle suppliers hope to profit from the new arrangements, as Ghosn announced a significant reduction in their numbers. For instance, Hayes Lemmerz supplies nearly all the aluminium wheels to Nissan Europe and is now making big strides with Renault as well.
Renault car sales last year totalled 2.29 million; a 7.4% increase. The company also announced that, in the future, it will use Nissan’s production capacity outside Japan to produce and market Renault cars.
Despite a slight fall in new car registrations in France during April, the market so far this year has risen 6% compared to 1999. French manufacturers have done exceptionally well, with Renault sales up 6% and Peugeot up 12%. Not so happy in April were Fiat (down 28%) and Ford (down 25%).
Ford predicts that it will once again reach a 10 p.c. market share in Europe within three years, according to the Wall Street Journal. Luxury car sales will play a large part in reaching the target. Renault and Nissan are moving closer together in Europe, merging their sales organisations. Around 9% of the 5,600 jobs are expected to be lost, saving some 1 billion Euro. By 2002, DaimlerChrysler intends to create 15,000 jobs. 5,000 of these will be in Germany in the service field of leasing, fleet management and fast fit services, according to the Financial Times Deutschland.