Washington — Since citizens of the UK voted for the country to leave the European Union (EU), officials of the tire, automotive and automotive parts industries are still trying to determine what Brexit will mean to their global businesses.
Reactions within the rubber and tire sectors and their supplier industries have been mainly of disappointment, although many have tried to put on a brave face.
“The UK is an important market for Goodyear,” the tire maker said 27 June, four days after 17.4 million UK voters, representing 51.9 percent of the votes cast, decided that their nation should get out of the EU. “Like all global companies, we shall continue to assess the situation as it evolves.”
From an impact point of view, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. potentially has the most at stake among tire makers. Its European headquarters and largest European plant are in Melksham, England, where Cooper has been located since 1997 after buying Avon Rubber PLC’s tire operations.
The plant is Cooper’s primary location for its Avon motorcycle and Avon and Cooper racing tire businesses.
Findlay, Ohio-based Cooper said it is monitoring the market reaction and other repercussions of the Brexit vote.
“We are currently assessing what impacts, if any, Brexit will have on our business,” the company said. “Cooper’s footprint in Europe, with operations in the UK and continental Europe, positions us well to meet customer demand and respond to any changes.”
The tire maker said it will address the effects of Brexit — along with other issues related to its business — when it releases its second-quarter results 4 Aug.
For the past several years, Michelin has sourced radial truck tires for the US market from its Ballymena, Northern Ireland, plant; that factory, however, is slated to close by mid-2018 as part of a European-wide restructuring that will result in more than 1,600 job cuts.
US tire retailers expressed little concern about Brexit. There have been no calls to Tire Industry Association (TIA) headquarters about the vote, and the subject did not come up during a TIA Board of Directors meeting the weekend after the Brexit vote, TIA Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield told Tire Business.
Michelin North America Inc. declined comment for this article. Bridgestone Americas could not be reached for comment.