Italian brand Melber had to leave the German aftermarket for alloy wheels last year. In co-operation with Euro Consulting and sales manager Josef Holder the company is now planning a relaunch of the brand in the German market.
Hayes Lemmerz has combined its sales and marketing forces of fabricated and cast wheels in North America. President of the new unit is Ronald Kolakowski, Richard Miller has been appointed vice president and four sales directors are responsible for NA oe customers.
With a fuel consumption of less than three litres per hundred kilometres (approximately 95mpg) the new Volkswagen Lupo TDI sets new standards. The reduced consumption has been achieved by a combination of various measures; the use of light-weight forged wheels by Fuchs is for instance a contributory factor to the reduced weight of the vehicle. On the tyre side, Bridgestone/Firestone has scored in original equipment with the B 381 Ecopia, size 155/65 R14 75T. The name, made up from “ecology” and “utopia” is also the statement of a programme, which will exploit experience gained in the construction of this tyre for future Bridgestone/Firestone products. The tyre manufacturer achieved weight reduction by using aramid instead of steel in the belt and light-weight polyester in the casing. Thanks to its clever rubber compound formula the tyre’s rolling resistance has also been optimised and at the same time has fulfilled the tyre manufacturer’s ecologically motivated desire for noise reduction. As an equivalent for the winter season Bridgestone recommends the WT 12 tread pattern.
Four years ago Südrad Autoräder GmbH und Co. KG had to call in the receiver, who in the meantime sold the aluminium wheel division of the company. Now the steel wheel production at Ebersbach has also found a new owner in the guise of Mefro Räderwerk Ronneburg GmbH. In 1999 Südrad with 600 employees will produce approximately five million car steel wheels as well as steel wheels for trucks and light trucks. The turnover is given as 140 million marks, and Südrad is back in the black now that the restructuring measures have been completed. Mefro had its origins in a wheel combine of the former GDR and now has an annual production of approximately two million steel wheels for agricultural and construction site vehicles as well as for industrial vehicles and fork lift trucks. With a workforce of about 220 employees Mefro has an annual turnover of approximately 60 million marks.
In its last issue NEUE REIFENZEITUNG speculated about an agreement between Montupet and Michelin in the area of aluminium cast wheels. The talks seem to be “on hold” for the time being, because at the moment both partners have their hands “full with orders”. Montupet is currently doubling its capacity to 2.5 million cast wheels. Kronprinz, the Michelin subsidiary in Solingen, is able to cast 1.4 million wheels with the equipment already in place. In its search for a strategic alliance partner (without seeking a direct participation) Michelin has now found steel wheel manufacturer Meritor, which has factories in Mexico and Brazil. Meritor is a business division of Rockwell, the large supplier to the automotive industry, and is also known by the trade name Fumagalli. With an annual capacity of about 25 million steel and aluminium wheels Michelin is roughly double the size of Meritor. The strategic benefit for Michelin is not only the geographical location of the two Meritor factories, but above all the close relationship between the supplier Rockwell and Chrysler. The principal reason for the cooperation between M+M, however, was Renault’s decision to produce the Mégane also in South America with the same steel wheels as in Europe, where they are made by Michelin. To comply with local content requirements, the South American Mégane will have Meritor wheels.