Nexen’s Changnyeong factory, the tyre manufacturer's latest passenger car tyre production plant, officially opened on Tuesday 11 October. The factory has already been producing tyres since earlier in the year (as Tyres & Accessories reported in our July issue of the magazine, Company News, page 38). However, the latest event marks the symbolic start of serial production.
Spanish Environmental Group, HERA Holding and US sustainable materials company, Lehigh Technologies Inc have announced a partnership to bring in micronized rubber powder (MRP) for the tyre, consumer and industrial plastics and coatings industries in Europe. Lehigh says that MRPs can lower costs, increase the sustainability profile of end products and deliver performance without sacrificing the reliability and performance of traditional raw materials. Its customer base already includes five of the top ten largest tyre companies in the world, and the company estimates that more than 140 million tyres have been manufactured using its MRP. The new partnership aims to bring MRP into Europe with Hera Holding adapting its recycling plant in Navarra, Spain to allow for the production of MRP.
Maxxis-sponsored Swan Yamaha’s Tommy Hill is to continue the defence of his MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship title, as the series approaches the final three rounds of the season with the highly anticipated Showdown, which features the top six riders. Having qualified third fastest at Donington Park on 8-9 September, Hill posted a double podium for the fifth consecutive round, finishing second in race one and third in the second race. His seven wins so far this season – at Oulton Park, where he followed up an early season victory with an impressive, first ever hat-trick in the championship in July, and at Snetterton and Knockhill – have earned him 35 podium credits, giving him a 10 point lead over nearest rival Josh Brookes of Tyco Suzuki. Hill now heads the elite group of six riders representing six different teams when the Showdown gets underway at the Assen TT Circuit in the Netherlands on 21-23 September. Alex Lowes (WFR Honda) and Tommy Bridewell (Supersonic BMW) have joined defending champion Hill, Brookes, Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) and Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda) as Title Fighters.
The UK’s leading network car breakers have revealed that Londoners are the UK’s most accident prone, with those from Bristol and Glasgow coming in second and third based on demand for car parts in those areas. The is based on data generated by breakeryard.com, which reveals the cities and towns around the UK that have requested the most parts from the site since it launched in 2003.
Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo dominated the Italian Grand Prix ahead of Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso. Bridgestone’s special construction rear slick tyre, provided in order to give riders another option for dealing with Mugello’s abrasiveness and high track temperatures of around 49°C, was only used by Casey Stoner, who finished eighth; the rest of the top ten all used the hard slicks on both front and rear.
Yokohama-shod Jarkko Nikara claimed his first class victory, four minutes ahead of the next Production Cup driver, in the 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge Production Cup, claiming fifth overall on the San Marino Rally. Nikara and co-driver Jarkko Kalliolepo led the event from the first stage in their Tommi Makinen Racing Subaru Impreza R4 and claimed the Japanese brand's first event win of 2012 with a margin of more than four minutes.
Nexen Tire has opened a sales branch in Bogota, Colombia. It is the second branch in South & Central America after the first one in Brazil. According to Nexen, Columbia is the third biggest market in South America after Brazil and Argentina. It has a reported demand of around 4 million units a year. With its booming economy, the tyre market in the country is also expected to grow.
Nexen Tire’s new factory in Changnyeong, South Korea has entered service, and according to Joo-Ho Song, senior managing director, global marketing at Nexen, the facility will play a key role in the tyre maker’s ambitious plans. Output at Changnyeong will initially be a modest 3 million units in 2012 and will build up, aided by five planned further factory expansions, to 21 million units – 60,000 tyres a day – by 2018. By that date, Nexen says it will have invested a total of 1,200 billion won (£650 million) in the plant.
Red Bull driver Mark Webber became the 2012 Formula One season’s sixth different winner in six races, triumphing with a one-stop strategy in Monaco. With Monaco being the hardest circuit of the year to overtake on, the emphasis was on tyre strategy to help move drivers forward during the race. Every points scorer took only one pit stop, with the majority starting on Pirelli’s P Zero Red supersoft tyre – only Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Force India’s Paul di Resta from the final top ten did not.
Following the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association report on passenger car registrations, market research company JATO Dynamic has added its new car sales analysis for the region. The headline figures are declines of 6.1 per cent in April, the lowest monthly decline of the year so far, and 7.1 per cent in year-to-date compared to 2011. Focusing more on the top ten brands, JATO explained that Renault and Opel/Vauxhall experienced the largest fall in sales during April of 16.9 and 16.1 per cent respectively, while Volkswagen maintains top position, ahead of Ford.
Art experts take note – the 10 May deadline is approaching for the Dunlop Art Car Competition, in which racing fans and artists have the chance to design the livery for a Ferrari F458 Italia competing in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. This is the fourth year that a Dunlop car’s design has been created by competition winners – but Dunlop says this year there is a big difference – designers/artists have a much freer canvas for designing the look of the Dunlop-sponsored Ferrari F458 Italia entered by JMW Motorsport.
If you were to look back on the rising presence of Chinese tyres in recent times, you’d be mistaken for thinking manufacturers in the People’s Republic view the world as their oyster and the future as all good. Yet tyre makers in China are not insulated from the economic troubles we’ve experienced since 2008. Last year, China’s economic growth slowed and imports are currently increasing at a greater rate than exports. On top of all this, China is now home to more than 500 tyre manufacturers. And while the top ten Chinese tyre makers together hold 30 per cent of the domestic market, most companies are small and many have product mix and quality issues. In light of these economic conditions and a crowded playing field, a number of larger Chinese firms realise they need to adapt in order to continue prospering. Specifically, they recognise the necessity of investing in quality.
Shandong Ling Long has been honoured in its home country for its sponsorship of China’s National Women’s Volleyball Team. The tyre maker was recognized during a China Central Television Sports Marketing Forum at the 7th annual Top Ten Classic Cases of Sports Marketing Awards. This marketing forum is said to be one of the country’s top national meetings and is widely known as the ‘Chinese Davos’, according to Ling Long.
In its recently released 2011 ‘European Tyre & Rubber Industry’ statistics, the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers Association states that retreading managed to stage an almost complete recovery in Europe during 2010. Quoting Europool figures, the ETRMA shares that after experiencing a 21 per cent decrease within the region from 2007 to 2009, with unit sales dropping from 5,800,000 to 4,561,000 during this time, in 2010 retread unit sales rose 22.9 per cent year-on-year to 5,605,000. The number of retreads sold within Europe last year is thus only 3.3 per cent lower than 2007 levels, the ETRMA notes.
In news that may get your barometer moving, Uniroyal Tyres has revealed its list of top ten rain-related songs. The wet weather tyre specialist polled 2,000 music loving drivers and found Prince’s mid-80s classic ‘Purple Rain’ to be the punters’ favourite. Runner-up honours went to the exuberant ‘It’s Raining Men’ from The Weather Girls, while Guns N Roses’ November Rain took third place.