Despite significant interest rate hikes, geopolitical tensions, inflation and economic stagnation in some regions, modest signs of global economic recovery appeared in 2023. Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) reports experiencing notable improvements in the financial year ending 31 December 2023, including a “significant reduction” in freight costs compared with the prior year as well as a “lull in the soaring raw material and energy costs,” leading to significantly improved profitability.
The United States Department of Commerce has released the results of its anti-dumping review of imported passenger car and light truck tyres (PCR) made in Thailand. The result of the re-examination investigation is consistent with the preliminary one and its good news for Thai tyre manufacturing plants. The release of the result also means PCR products produced in Thailand are expected to enter the United States market in large quantities soon.
Falken Tire Europe has announced its intention to adjust Falken and Sumitomo brand tyre prices effective at the beginning of 2024. The “adjustments” will affect Falken summer and all-season tyres for cars, SUVs, vans, light trucks, and trucks and trailers, while Sumitomo-brand summer car and van tyres will also be adjusted. Winter tyre prices will not be adjusted. The manufacturer has not yet released detailed information of the proportion or direction of the adjustments. Additionally, Falken’s UK representatives and exclusive distributor, the Sumitomo-owned Micheldever Tyre Services, told Tyres & Accessories that it was yet to confirm any new pricing details affecting the UK market.
At the end of September, the list of Asia’s most influential brands of 2023 was published at the “Asia Brand Summit” in Hong Kong. A total of 500 brands from 20 countries and regions, were honoured at the 18th World Brand Lab summit themed “The Impact of New Technologies on Brand Transformation and Consumer Behavior.” Seven of them were tyre brands and all seven were ranked amongst the top 350 of the 500 honoured brands.
The Tire Society has published the details of presentations scheduled for its 42nd Annual Conference (12-13 September 2023, at the University of Akron, Ohio). In addition to in-person attendance, benefitting from live Q&A, sponsor exhibits and a student poster session, registrants can access the presentations after the Conference via a “play-on-demand” feature. Registration includes Tire Society Membership, which gives access to the critically reviewed Tire Science and Technology Journal.
Sumitomo Rubber Group sold 110 million tyres worldwide in 2022 and is well aware of the importance that these products be recycled at the end of their working lives. For this reason, three group companies are collaborating to explore new recycling technologies.
The World Brand Lab has released the list of Asia’s 500 most influential brands in 2022. Tyrepress analysis shows seven brands related to tyres among those ranked, namely: Bridgestone, Hankook, Kumho, Doublestar Linglong, Sailun, and Sumitomo. The Sumitomo brand involves diversified industries, but its subsidiary Sumitomo Rubber is a world-renowned tyre manufacturer.
On 17 August, Sumitomo Rubber (China) announced that the company is ending the sale and production of truck tyres in China. From 2023, the company will no longer produce and sell truck and bus tyres for the Chinese market. From April 2024, Sumitomo Rubber (China) will no longer manufacture truck and bus tyres for overseas markets.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd. has signed on to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative officially added the Japanese tyre and rubber products manufacturer to its registry of participating companies on 19 May 2022.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd. is increasing production capacity for both consumer and truck tyres at its factory in Brazil. With an investment of 1.064 billion Real (£148.7 million), the company will boost capacity for passenger vehicle and light truck tyres from 18,000 to 23,000 tyres a day by April 2024. It will lift truck and bus tyre capacity from the current level of 1,000 tyres a day to 2,200 per day by April 2025.
Amidst widespread economic and political unrest in South Africa, local tyre manufacturers have experienced significant disruption and even looting. Specifically, the Dunlop South Africa (formally Sumitomo Rubber South Africa Pty Ltd – SRSA) Durban Westville warehouse was “invaded” by trespassers and looters resulting in the loss of 90 million rand (£4.533 million; 5.255 million euros; US$6.190 million) of tyre stock. Such is the scale of the problem, the local tyre industry has embarked on a “say no to looted goods” campaign.
Tomohiko Masuta has been named as managing director of both Falken Tyre Europe GmbH and Sumitomo Rubber Europe GmbH. Masuta joined Sumitomo Rubber Industries in 1985, first gaining experience in the Product Development department. In the 1990s, he moved to the Original Equipment (OE) area of the business before being dispatched to support the development of the Dunlop brand in European countries. In 2015, he was appointed general manager of OE Tyre Business for SRI, with his most recent role being general manager of the Automotive System Division. In his new appointment, Masuta will oversee the SRI group companies in the EMEA region and Falken businesses in Europe and will drive the growth of OE customers within the region.
Following last month’s preview of the 2021 report, Brand Finance has released its full Tyres 10 ranking. According to the 2021 table, the tyre sector has taken a hit over the last year, with all 10 brands losing brand value. Brand Finance unsurprisingly puts this decline down to the pandemic-related behavioural changes: “Owing to the lack of travel due to lockdowns, car sales are declining, which means tyre brands are selling less units, resulting in a drop in market equity across the industry. Furthermore, since the economy has been riskier in general over the past year, investor risk has increased, triggering a rise in the cost of capital.”
Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) has presented the “next evolution” of its proprietary Advanced 4D Nano Design materials development technology. The manufacturer of the Falken and (outside Europe) Dunlop tyre brands also reports it is utilising supercomputer technology to accelerate its work on materials simulation.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries has inaugurated a winter tyre test facility at its Nayoro Tire Proving Ground on the northern island of Hokkaido, one of its main development sites for winter tyres. The 3,000 square metre Nayoro Indoor ICE Field – NICE for short – is one of the largest indoor on-ice tyre testing facilities in Japan.