At the time of going to press, the President of the United States of America is mid-way through a state visit to the UK. Before he even landed on British soil, President Donald Trump stirred up controversy by tweeting his disparaging thoughts about London Mayor Sadiq Kahn. Whatever view one might hold about the propriety of Trump’s visit, we all know that 31-gun salutes and tea with the queen are about more than niceties. Sure enough less than 24 hours into the state visit, presidential talk turned to trade, with Trump backing out-going Prime Minister Theresa May to complete Brexit negotiations and promising a “phenomenal” trade deal between the US and UK. But all this is set against the backdrop of all-out trade war between the US and China at the same time that Europe is involved in somewhat more Cold War-esque trade skirmishes with China as well. The questions are: do such measures work? And what do they mean for the tyre business?
Bekaert and ArcelorMittal have integrated Bekaert’s formerly wholly-owned steel cord subsidiary in Sumaré (Brazil) into the BMB (Belgo Mineira Bekaert Artefatos de Arame Ltda) partnership.
In line with the shareholding structure of the BMB joint venture, ArcelorMittal has become the majority shareholder (55.5%) of the steel cord entity in Sumaré and Bekaert retains the remaining shares (44.5%).
The European Commission has approved the proposed acquisition of the steel tyre cord business of the Italian company Pirelli by its Belgian-based rival NV Bekaert SA under the EU Merger Regulation. According to an official statement dated 31 July, the commission concluded that the acquisition “would not raise competition concerns as the merged entity’s customers, which are large, multinational tyre companies, have countervailing buyer power which is further strengthened by over-capacity in the steel tyre cord market.”
Pirelli & C. SpA has signed an agreement with Bekaert to sell 100 per cent of its steel cord activities to the Belgium-based steel wire company for an enterprise value of €255 million. At the same time, the two firms have entered into a long-term agreement for Bekaert to supply Pirelli with tyre cord. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in the second half of the year.
Last year, Continental introduced the first tyres in its third generation commercial vehicle range. These initial products, the HA3 Conti Coach, Conti CityPlus and the Conti Urban, catered to passenger transport, and now the manufacturer has followed up with the launch of its first 3G tyre for the goods sector, the Continental EcoPlus HT3 trailer tyre.
The European Institute of Purchasing Management (EIPM) has granted the 2013 EIPM Peter Kraljic Excellence Award for ‘Value Creation – Extended Enterprise’ to steel cord manufacturer Bekaert during the 2013 annual EIPM Purchasing Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
According to an article published in Italian newspaper La Repubblica today, Pirelli intends to divest its ‘Steelcord’ business and has attached a €250 million price tag to it. The publication says Pirelli is now in the final stages of negotiations with Bekaert regarding a potential sale.
Tyre maker Continental says a machine it has co-developed offers a new approach to recycling the rubberised steel cord scrap that arises during the manufacturing process. The unit, which has been named the ‘Hurricane Machine’, separates uncured rubber compound and steel cord by a process Continental that claims is a tyre industry world first.
Within the coming 12 months, Bridgestone Corporation will close its steel cord facility in Kuroiso, Japan and consolidate production into its remaining Japanese steel cord plant, Saga. The company says these measures will commence immediately and it expects to complete them by late September 2014.
Hankook says it is rejuvenating its line-up for the refitting/tuning market and in spring 2014 will introduce a new high performance wide tyre, the Ventus V12 evo². In addition to considerable improvements in all performance parameters over the prior-generation Ventus V12 evo, the manufacturer reports that environmental characteristics were also a key element for the development team when creating the V12 evo².
Current estimates place the global container trade at around 600 million teu, or 20 foot container equivalents, per annum. And if the experts’ predictions pan out, this business will grow significantly in the coming years. Continental has thus identified harbour and port users as an interesting segment and has developed a completely new product range catering to their requirements. At this week’s TOC Container Supply Chain Europe exhibition in Rotterdam, the company launched its new harbour tyre portfolio, and explained the technology it hopes will optimise end-user total cost of ownership.
Hankook unveiled several new commercial tyres at the CV Show, including the bead to bead retread truck tyre the Alphatread. Additionally Hankook’s latest truck tyres, which aim to fill a gap it identifies between medium and long haul transportation, were displayed, while the brand raised interest in its stand through its sporting sponsorships. Tom May and Phil Dowson, players from Northampton Saints RFC visited the stand, while Hankook also ran a competition to win VIP tickets to football’s Europa League semi-final, a partnership that was announced at last year’s show.
If the weather in Europe is anything it is fickle, and the last couple of years have thrown several extremes our way. Hankook recognises that all-season tyres may be very much at home in our unpredictable conditions and has introduced an entirely new range of medium to long haul truck tyres for all-season purposes. The range is called Smartflex and consists of each three main sizes for steer and drive axle tyres. Hankook says the M+S marked tyres are designed to handle increased load capacities and to provide driving safety under changing weather conditions.
The newest addition to the Mitas ERL earthmover tyre range has been unveiled at Bauma 2013. Like other products in the ERL range, the 20.5R25 ERL-50, which will be released globally in July, is intended for use on loaders, dozers and graders operating in rocky conditions. With the addition of the ERL-50, the ERL line-up now covers 12 sizes with tread depths ranging from 28 to 90mm.