Industry Report - Tire Review Magazine

Industry Report

Responding to TerrorIndustry Quick With Assistance, Donations

pplemented by donations from Goodyear employees. Goodyear also sent tire engineers to New York and dedicated manufacturing, logistics and delivery personnel to assure tire availability to recovery crews working in both cities.
Bridgestone/Firestone donated $100,000 to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, and began collecting donations at its company-owned stores. Bridgestone Corp., made a $1 million donation to the American Red Cross, as well. Yokohama Rubber Co., and Yokohama Tire Corp. and its employees donated $100,000 American Red Cross Relief Fund.
The RMA, representing its combined membership, made a donation of $25,000 to the American Red Cross.
Cooper matched a percentage of employee donations to the American Red Cross, and allowed dealers to use their co-op funds to make their own donations. Continental employees gathered and shipped much-needed water, Gatorade and clothing to support those working in recovery or clean-up efforts.
ACCC established the ACCC Relief Fund for its members to raise funds for the families of firefighters, police and military personnel who lost their lives in the attacks. TBC and its retail chains raised money for the Red Cross via corporate donations and at-store collections.
The One Fund was established to give North American tire dealers and retreaders a single, focused way to provide much needed long-term assistance to the surviving spouses and children of the New York City emergency personnel killed during the terrorist attacks.

NHTSA TPMS Proposal Brings Comments From Industry Groups

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s initial tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) rulemaking proposal was met with sharp criticism by representatives of the tire industry, especially over provisions that favor vehicle manufacturers and their positions regarding tires and tire safety issues.
The Tire Association of North America (TANA), the International Tire & Rubber Association (ITRA) and the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) all weighed in on the proposal when NHTSA requested public comment on its proposed rules.
While all three groups supported the provisions of the TREAD Act, which mandates on-board TPMS on all 2004 model year cars and light trucks, each had concerns about certain aspects of the proposal.
The complete text of NHTSA’s tire pressure monitoring system proposal and the responses from TANA, ITRA and RMA are on the Tire Review Web site at www.tirereview.com. Here are a few highlights from each association’s response:

 

TANA:
®′ Wants NHTSA’s final rules to allow “TPMS service and maintenance work regarding calibration and resetting of TPMSs to be available to all automotive businesses.” Automakers and car dealers ®should not be the only businesses with the ability to service or reset these systems,® and they should not be allowed to require ®codes, special equipment, computer software, or other methods of restricting automotive service.®  
®′ Does not want it left to automakers to mandate specific tire and wheel combinations. “This would effectively end the freedom of choice that today’s consumer enjoys when choosing tire and wheel combinations.” Restricted choice ®will change the very operational fabric of the replacement tire market.®
®′ Counters NHTSA’s assertion that tiremakers’ definition of “underinflated” is overly strict, and supports the RMA’s underinflation definition. ®Each TPMS should be calibrated for a specific car model and the tire on that car. The debate between 20% and 25% (NHTSA’s definition of underinflated) vastly oversimplifies tire pressure and the way it affects performance and safety of a tire ®ƒTire manufacturers know their products and how to utilize them for optimum, safe performance.®
®′ Disagreed with NHTSA’s plan to establish a minimum tire pressure level, and recommended NHTSA move from an “across-the-board” approach to ®an individual study of each vehicle’s proper tire inflation levels.®
®′ Supports direct TPMSs over indirect systems because “the numerous safety benefits that far outweigh the costs.”
®′ Recommended that TPMSs include the ability to adjust to tire and ambient temperature changes. “Temperature plays an important role in tire safety and maintenance as evidenced by the fact that tire manufacturers recommend tire pressure be measured when the tire is cold®ƒMany direct TPMSs can monitor temperature as well as air pressure.”
®′ Recommended that TPMS-equipped tires and wheels be marked “to let automotive professionals, such as tire dealers, know if a TPMS sensor is in place. This could be done through a sticker at the site of the sensor or by color-coding the valve stem.”

ITRA:
®′ Wants driver warning of low inflation conditions to include both visual and audible warnings. “We have noticed that many drivers ignore a warning light, especially on bright days.” And urges that TMPS warning systems to be tamper-proof.
®′ Supports use of direct TPMS. “We believe it would be a serious mistake to use a less expensive system.”
®′ Encourages a design change in wheels that would protect TPMS sensors when tires are changed or rotated. “This could be attained by designing one or more indentations in the wheel to receive the sensor and to keep it out of the path of the beads as the tire is demounted and mounted … It could also provide for this information to be stored in memory as we believe the abuse a tire receives throughout its tread life can be a major cause of accidents.”
®′ Also supports tiremaker and RMA definitions of “significantly underinflated.” ®®ƒ Recommended inflation pressure must be based on the carrying capacity of the tire at specific pressures as designated by the tire and vehicle manufacturers.® ITRA said some tires, in certain situations, can be operated at pressures below 80% of recommend inflation pressure, ®However, to be safe, we must assume that the vehicle will be loaded to the maximum, operated at the highest speeds and in the most extreme temperature environments.®
®′ Also wants TPMS service and maintenance open to all, not just automakers and car dealers. “The equipment to install, maintain and adjust the TPMS should be readily available and procedures for servicing the TPMS must be made accessible for automotive repair facilities and tire dealerships that are not associated with a vehicle manufacturer.”
®′ But suggests NHTSA require licensing “or certification for the individual or facility” that installs, services or adjusts TPMSs. ®If the ultimate goal is safety for the motoring public, then the TPMS should only be serviced by trained and qualified professionals.®

RMA:
®′ Argued against NHTSA’s definition of “underinflated”. ®The tire industry cannot support any TPMS proposal that would permit tires to operate outside of industry standards, without any warning to the driver. For NHTSA to arbitrarily determine that tires can be operated at lower pressures than recommended by any standardizing body or tire manufacturer in the world is not appropriate and is counter to the intent of the TREAD Act.®
®′ While RMA noted that current federal regulations “require vehicle manufacturers, not tiremakers, to establish the recommended inflation pressures for tires,” it suggested that ®vehicle manufacturers can enhance the safety of motorists by selecting a tire size and recommended pressure with enough ‘reserve pressure’ to accommodate the accuracy of the monitoring system.®
®′ Included a chart listing 30 examples of vehicle/tire combinations. “While two-thirds exceeded a 20% reserve pressure, one-third did not have a sufficient reserve inflation to permit a 20% drop in recommended pressure without significant underinflation occurring.” 
®′ Warned that any TPMS rules not add to driver “complacency over tire care and maintenance ®ƒ Tires today last longer than ever before, but tires cannot inflate themselves. With or without a TPMS, consumers will still have to check their tires’ inflation pressure, including the spare, at least once a month and before long trips.”

Tough Biz Climate Forces Michelin to Make Major Cut Backs

Current downturns in the North American tire market, and bleak short-term forecasts across the industry, forced Michelin North American to institute an immediate $200 million cost reduction program. The Greenville, S.C.-based company said the cuts would include the elimination of some 2,000 jobs company-wide, most of which it feels will come through “normal attrition” and a planned voluntary severance program.
“We need to position ourselves for the future and cannot wait for the markets to improve,” said Jim Micali, chairman and president of Michelin North America. ®We must get leaner and increase the focus on our core business so when the markets do improve, we can take advantage of every opportunity.®
In April, Michelin announced its intentions to cut operating expenses by $125 annually, and said job cuts were probable, but had made no moves to eliminate jobs.

Longest Rubber Strike Finally Over as USWA and Titan Settle at Des Moines

Titan International and United Steelworkers of America (USWA) Local 164 finally settled their 40-month dispute when a new five-year contract was easily ratified Sept. 26.
The new pact allows union members at Titan’s Des Moines tire plant to return to work within 60 days if they want to, and if openings exist. Replacement workers have manned the plant since shortly after the strike began in May 1998.
Union workers also received increased wages and pension funding, an early retirement program, cuts in mandatory overtime, and a “commitment” by Titan to operate the Des Moines plant as its ®flagship® facility, and to reopen the now shuttered Natchez, Miss., plant ®when economically feasible.®
Only a few maintenance workers now man the Natchez plant, but Titan said it would reopen it as market conditions allow. 

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