Mattracks 600

ERJ: Tire Industry News Tracker

Michelin… Semperit … Falcon Tyres… Bridgestone / Ryder  … Apollo … Goodyear appointment … China smoke & mirrors … Michelin Romania…

Listing of latest news stories and related developments from the tire sector in European and worldwide:

Michelin is offering farmers access to a mobile application that features a number of functionalities pressure calculator. According to Michelin with the app, real-time agricultural tire pressure information is just a photo and a couple of clicks away.

Semperit AG  will invest about $8.7m to modernise the production operations at its Wimpassing plant in lower Austria.  This represents a continuation of the group’s expansion and modernization project at the factory. Between 2012 and 2015, more than $50 million will have been invested in the facility, it said.

Goodyear’s 2013 launch of the Goodyear Assurance TripleMax tire in China was honoured as one of the world’s 50 best PR programmes at the 2014 Global SABRE Awards, winning the Marketing to Men category. More than 1.3m Goodyear-branded yellow rubber ducks were distributed to drivers in six major cities across China. Scanning a code on the duck connected people to a website with info about the new tire.

Bridgestone tire prodn 300 crop

Bridgestone’s largest UK commercial fleet customer Ryder reports that tire-related breakdowns for its customers have fallen by 28 percent under a partnership started a year ago with the tire maker. The link-up covers initiatives aimed at maximising fleet uptime and lowering running costs through steps including increased emphasis on setting correct tire pressures and detailed reviews of removed tyres – to avoid premature removal.

Apollo Butterfly Garden 600 crop

Apollo Tyres on 12 Dec inaugurated two butterfly gardens within the premises of its two manufacturing facilities in Kerala, in the southern part of the country. The aim is to “enhance and conserve the native biodiversity inside the Apollo Tyres’ premises in Kerala and the surrounding areas.”

Michelin is launching a new farm tire pressure app for smartphones, which puts real-time agricultural tire pressure information just a photo and a couple of clicks away. It can instantly work out the most appropriate tire pressures for the desired load and speed on any farm tractor, so that users can access a bespoke tire set-up in the field.

Michelin has started producing truck tires in India at its INR40bn (€522.6m) plant in Chennai. Going forward, it plans to manufacture tires for two-wheelers and passenger cars, NDTV AUTO reported. The company is also setting up a technical centre in Gurgaon.

The Singaporean ICICI Bank has become a major shareholder of Indian Falcon Tyres, which owns Dunlop India brand, said a report by The Hindu Business Line on 7 Dec. ICICI Bank has reportedly invoked 22.85 million shares, representing a 29.5-percent stake in the paid-up capital of Falcon Tyres, on 4 Dec.

Michelin has put plans to upgrade its tire factory in Dundee, Scotland on public display, The Courier has reported. The project which is in the early planning-application stages involves new manufacturing and storage zones.

Bridgestone expects to reduce energy costs by 50 percent through the installation of a wood biomass boiler at its tire plant in San Antonio de Belén, The Costa Rica News has reported.

Indian tire maker MRF Ltd is reportedly planning to invest nearly 40 billion rupees (€524 million) over the next three years in order to create more capacity at its eight manufacturing facilities, said a report by Indian Economic Times.

The International Rubber Study Group has announced that Michelin’s senior vice president and chief procurement officer, Luc Minguet will deliver a keynote speech at the World Rubber Summit,, 24-25 March 2015 at MAX Atria at the Singapore EXPO Exhibition and Convention Centre.


Continental Tire the Americas is recalling nearly 6,000 ProContact GX SSR radials that were fitted as original equipment on the front axles of certain 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class vehicles. Conti said some of the recalled tires may have been deformed during the curing process, which could cause the tire tread to appear distorted when inflated.

Continental AG, tire manufacturer and international automotive supplier, has appointed Ralph Lauxmann as its new head of systems & technology, chassi safety division and member of the division management board.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has named Jean-Denis Perche its new general manager of its Middle East and Africa (MEA) region. Perche has more than 10 years with the company working most recently in with Goodyear Dunlop Tires France.

Many companies in or around Beijing, including rubber manufacturers, were temporarily shut down, or ordered to limit production, to reduce the smog during the recent APEC summit , reports Jane Ho, ERJ’s correspondent in China.

Romania’s Competition Council approved the takeover of Romanian tyre distributor IHLE Anvelope by French tire producer Michelin, Romania-Insider reported on 27 Nov. The transaction is part of an international deal in which Michelin group took over German IHLE Holding, a tire wholesaler, and its international operations.

Michelin North America‘s president and chairman Pete Selleck has branded the standard of roads in South Carolina a “disgrace” and a barrier to the company’s expansion plans, has reported. The French tire maker has just opened a new plant for its innovative Tweel Airless radial tires in in the US state.

Pirelli Tyre has launched a reshuffle in its Americas’ division with Pierluigi Dinelli, CEO for Pirelli Italia, taking over as the chairman and CEO of Pirelli’s NAFTA region as of 1 Jan 2015. Dinelli will succeed Paulo Ferrari, who is expected to become CEO of Pirelli Latin America.

Only about one in five drivers living in the US ‘snowbelt’ will be riding on winter tires this season, according to an online survey by Bridgestone Americas and fielded by Harris Interactive Inc. “The results of our survey suggest many US drivers are not as prepared as they could be for winter’s worst,” said Robert Saul, senior product manager, Bridgestone Americas. “Winter tires are a smart choice, because they have specialized technology that is optimized for traction, braking and handling on cold, icy and snow-covered roads.”

Volkswagen has announced that it is aiming to become the world’s largest car manufacturer by 2018, taking over the current world number 1 Toyota. The company has announced that is planing to invest $106 billion (€85 billion) over the next five years to meet its goal of becoming the biggest car maker.

Vehicle track maker Mattracks has extended its EZtracks range to allow an increased footprint, centrally located under the vehicle’s axles. As well as providing equal ground pressure over the entire system, this can also keep the tracks within the confines of the vehicle’s overall length and maximise clearance for fenders and body parts. A smooth ride is said to be ensured by the wheel arrangement, track tread design and a patented rubber torsion anti-torque system that utilises the vehicle’s own suspension.

Nokian is hoping to advance its position in Russia – despite current market problems due to the crisis in eastern  Ukraine, according to  a Reuters report. Russia accounts for almost a third of the company’s total sales. The Finnish company, it said, is also eyeing emerging opportunities in the winter tire sector China.

UK-based Gwynedd Shipping Group has renewed its contract with ATS Euromaster for the 17th consecutive year. The haulier runs a fleet of 80 trucks and 600 trailers, which needs a service provider and tyre policy which can manage this high utilisation. Since 1997, a full Michelin tyre policy has been implemented for the fleet.

Bridgestone Americas, on 18 Nov, opened its first giant off-road radial tire plant. Based in Aiken County, South Carolina, the facility produces products for heavy-haul trucks in mining and aggregates applications. In 2011, Bridgestone announced the $970m investment and related moves to expand its steel cord manufacturing facilities in Clarksville, Tennessee, and Saga, Japan.

Tire are now the best-selling automotive item on-line, according to Tom De Vleesschauwer, director automotive long-term planning & sustainability at IHS Automotive. At ERJ’s recent Future Tire conference, he also presented figures showing that 11 percent of automotive replacement parts in Europe are currently bought on-line. This level is predicted to increase to 20 percent by 2025.

Only slightly more than half of Canadian drivers outside of Quebec use winter tires, according to a new survey commissioned by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada. “The fact that so many drivers are not using winter tires is a clear threat to road safety,” said TRAC president Glenn Maidment, The survey found that winter usage in provinces outside of Quebec—where winter tire use is mandated—ranges from 38 percent in British Columbia to 73 percent in the Atlantic Provinces. Other provinces and their usage rate are: Ontario, 56 percent; Alberta, 45 percent; and Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 39 percent each.

With winter drawing closer, South Korea Kumho Tire is marking its Road Safety Week 17-23 Nov. The tire company said: “This year, Road Safety Week is asking everyone to look out for each other on the roads, as simply a lack of concentration can result in a road accident. The aim is to encourage drivers to slow down to 20mph in communities, look longer, take it slower at junctions and bends, and allow people plenty of space.”

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has said that there will be no great changes to the tire compounds for the 2015 Formula 1 season despite facing criticism across the course of 2014. NBC Sport quoted Hembery as saying that Pirelli were “trying to improve a little bit the footprint area of the tyre, which is what you do as a tire maker.”

Goodyear has earned a 2014 Aon Hewitt Top Companies for Leaders award for strength of leadership practices and culture, examples of leader development on a global scale, alignment of business and leadership strategy, company reputation, business and financial performance. Goodyear ranked 24th out of a list of 25 North American companies receiving the award.

Hankook Tire announced on 5 Nov the launch of its new global tire brand, Laufenn. Hankook Tire unveiled the Laufenn product line and brand strategy, stating it would demonstrate the company’s commitment to meet the versatile needs of consumers. According to the Hankook, the new brand offers a wide range of products to consumer who seek value, quality and style.

Force control was a priority for designers of the new Lexus NX, in particular minimising the sound of shake and shudder caused by lateral loads from the road surface which changes the tread width of a tire as the wheel reacts to an undulation. The NX has reinforced front lower suspension arm mountings so the tread width does not change with the wheel stroke. This, said the car maker, also provides optimum steering feel and input control.

Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations has hired T.J. Higgins as president of the Consumer US and Canada division – succeeding Gordon Knapp, who became chief operating officer of Bridgestone Americas in March. Higgins has more than 20 years of experience in major brand consumer products marketing, most recently as the North America regional president for Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. He has also held leadership roles at Merck and Vlasic.

Michelin North America Inc. has expanded the range of its Tweel airless radial tire for skid steers and disclosed its first original equipment fitment for the tire/wheel unit, with Deere & Co. for the John Deere’s ZTRAK zero-turn commercial lawn mowers. Two years after launching the Tweel commercially, Michelin has added a pair of fitments for skid steers—a 12N16.5 X Tweel SSL All Terrain fitment for a wide range of surfaces and a 12N16.5 X Tweel SSL Hard Surface for pavement use.

Toyo Tire North America Manufacturing Inc. (TNA) of White, Georgia, has received ISO/TS 16949:2009 certification for the design and manufacturing of passenger and light truck tires.  The quality management cert was issued by Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance Ltd.The TNAplant in Georgia is currently adding more than 1,000,000-square feet to its current 2,000,000-square feet of manufacturing and warehousing.  TNA also plans to hire an additional 650 employees over the next year. Toyo Tires’ technical centre in Itami City, Japan is also named on the certificate.

Canadians deal with some of the worst winter driving conditions says the announcing its latest top winter tire recommendations. In the passenger car/minivan sector the best overall performer was Bridgestone’s Blizzak WS80 due its “stop and go traction, handling and ride comfort.” In second-place, Michelin’s X-Ice Xi3 scored highly for acceleration traction on snow and ice, its full-silica compound maintaining flexibility at low temperatures. Just behind was the Yokohama iceGUARD iG52c, which features 3-D saw-toothed sipes that increase control by providing more biting edges to cut into ice.

The US Dept of Commerce’s international trade administration has postponed a decision on an antidumping duty investigation against Chinese passenger and light truck tires from 1 Dec to 20 Jan, 2015. “Because of the extraordinary complexity of this case and the number of firms we must investigate, including over 80 separate rate applications, it is not practicable to complete the preliminary determination by the current deadline,” the agency said in a notice.

Bridgestone has been awarded the BMW supplier innovation award 2014 in the category ‘efficient dynamics;, in recognition of its new ologic technology for C02-optimised tyres developed for the BMW i3 electric vehicle. Bridgestone was selected exclusively to develop tires that complement the dynamic handling and sustainable performance of the i3. The ologics have especially large diameters and narrow treads, which reduce tire deformation and loss of energy during driving, helping to reduce rolling resistance without impacting safety levels.

BMW has awarded Pirelli this year’s annual BMW supplier innovation award in recognition of its ‘real dynamic curing’ technology for the tire vulcanisation process. The technology employs a thermal sensor to determine the optimal degree of vulcanisation for each tire. The prize for ‘the best innovation in quality’ was collected by Maurizio Boiocchi, Pirelli’s general manager technology. Pirelli has more than 200 homologations for the BMW Group.

Professional truck drivers travelled 421.3bn miles of road in the US last year, consuming more than 52bn gallons of fuel, notes Goodyear – citing data from the American Trucking Associations to support the launch of a fuel-efficient long haul drive tire. The new Full Max LHD G505D, it claims, improves fuel economy by, on average, 2 percent compared to the Michelin X Line Energy D; 1.3 percent compared to the Continental EcoPlus HD3; and 0.9 percent compared to the Bridgestone M710 Ecopia.

Marangoni Retreading Systems has updated its range of cold-retreaded winter tyres, for 2014/2015, to cover all needs: from all-season profiles to patterns suitable for wet roads, snow and ice. New offerings include the new Ringtread Blackline WS101 – a bi-directional tread pattern with a variable block arrangement and deep 3D siping with interlock technology. The square tread profile means “an exceptionally wide footprint” that maximises grip on the road, allowing the tread to adapt to continuous changes in both road and weather conditions during operation for enhanced control on wet, snow-covered surfaces.

Chinese tyre maker Chengshan Group is to exercise its rights to take over the tire plant it jointly owns withCooper Tire’s largest factory, the Financial Times has reported. The decision ends a long battle that, last year, scuppered a £2.5bn takeover of Cooper by Apollo Tyres of India, as workers at state-owned Chengshan rejected the deal. According to the FT report, that the company is offering $285m for Cooper’s controlling 65 per-cent stake in the JV.

Leicester, UK-based haulier JC Trans (UK) has recorded an 88 percent reduction in tire failures per quarter, after adopting a full Michelin tire policy for its 15-strong fleet. The company had suffered an average of 16 tire failures per quarter, which has since reduced to two. The policy sees all the firm’s tractor units fitted with X MultiWay 3D XZE multi-position tires on the steer axle, and X MultiWay 3D XDEs on the drive axles.

Around 120 international exhibitors are lined up for Reifen China at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre on 3-5 Dec. Exhibitors will include the 15 largest tire makers in China, such as Double Coin, Shandong Linglong Tyre, the China National Tire & Rubber Corp. Running in parallel, Rubber Tech China will relate to the stage before tire production: featuring around 500 exhibitors. Both events aim to jointly cover the complete value added chain of the tire: from raw material processing via manufacture and trading right up to recycling. Around 15,000 visitors are expected.

Oversupplied and overstocked, the off-the-road (OTR) tire sector is now a buyer’s market, according to Mike Baggett, national OTR sales manager for Yokohama Tire Corp. Mining – a key market – is suffering a decline now, with no end in sight, he said at the recent International Tire Exhibition & Conference in Orlando. However, small OTR tires are enjoying an upswing, said Aaron Murphy, VP of CMA LLC/Double Coin: “[They] have the right production flow and the right inventory levels, and sales are strong,” he said.

Polyurethane tire developer Amerityre Corp. has posted a net loss for the fiscal year ended 30 June 12-percent deeper than in the year before despite 19-percent higher sales. For the year, the net loss was $1.29 million on sales of $4.32 million – taking cumulative losses over 18 years to $64.4m. The Boulder City, Nevada-based company linked the decline to a reconciliation of assets, trademarks and patents and the sales gain to the recovery of business in hand-truck and wheel assemblies.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is marking the 70th year of its San Angelo tire evaluation centre, which plays a key role in its product and technology development work. On- and off-road testing at the facility supplies the company’s technical teams with data and information for predicting product performance in real-world conditions.

More items to follow …