London – Michelin is studying the future of its car tire production plant in Hallstadt, Bamberg, Germany, as demand continues to fall for smaller-rim tire sizes, a company spokeswoman has told ERJ.
The plant, which specialises primarily in the production of smaller-sized passenger car tires, is facing “substantial difficulties”, due to ‘structural changes’ in the European market, explained Maira Tuerk, site and change communication manager at Michelin Reifenwerke AG.
The French tire maker, according to Tuerk, has now entered into negotiations with the works council of the plant and unions to examine “the various options” for the future of the site.
“We are in a difficult situation and are looking at all the options. The negotiations have just begun and are at a very early stage,” she added.
These talks, according to Tuerk, are expected to take "several weeks."
In addition to a general move towards vehicles with larger tire dimensions, competition, particularly from Asia, contributed to the difficulties of the plant, said Tuerk.
“The range of low-budget products has developed rapidly [and] since 2010, the market share of the 16-inch premium segment has dropped from 60% to 40%,” she explained.
Operational since 1971, the Bamberg plant employs around 850 and manufactures 8 million tires per year.
The announcement comes less than a year after Michelin unveiled plans to shut down another small-sized tire production plant in Dundee, Scotland, affecting 845 jobs.
Following intensive talks with Scottish authorities, Michelin has agreed to repurpose the Dundee site to a “flagship innovation centre”, after it ceases to produce tires in mid-2020.