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Fed Appeals Court Tosses NHTSA RegsThe U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals gave the tire industry a surprise gift Aug. 6 when it sided with three citizens groups and threw out NHTSA’s controversial tire pressure monitoring system regulations.

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ines, Iowa, plant.

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Titan officials said the Brownsville facility would continue to serve as a warehouse and distribution center for the company. Tire production, however, would be suspended "until market demand requires additional capacity."

Titan’s other tire plant in Natchez, Miss., has been closed since early 2001. The Des Moines plant, the company said, was not operating at capacity. The Brownsville closure eliminated some 300 jobs.

Titan officials blamed high inventories, lingering downturns in its core farm and construction markets, and heavy competition from offshore producers as the primary reasons for the move.

TIA Launches Fall Tire Tech Training and New Fleet Training Programs

The Tire Industry Association (TIA) has announced the schedule for the for its Fall 2003 commercial tire service training tour, and has added a fleet maintenance manager training program designed to enhance both tire performance and fleet safety.

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TIA’s "Truck Tire Training Tour" will hold 20 CTS training sessions in 10 cities between Sept. 30 and Oct. 31. The program will visit Providence, R.I., Sept. 30 to Oct.1, Baltimore Oct. 2-3, Greensboro, N.C., Oct. 7-8, Columbia, S.C., Oct. 9-10, Indianapolis Oct. 14-15, Minneapolis Oct. 16-17, Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 21-22, Denver Oct. 23-24, Phoenix Oct. 28-29 and Las Vegas Oct. 30-31.

Each stop will feature one-day classroom seminars on each day, allowing companies to split their workforce and maximize training of tire technicians, said TIA. Attendees can also take TIA’s Commercial Tire Service certification exam and become certified technicians.

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Registration information and forms are available at www.tireindustry.org or by contacting Christine Marnett at 800-426-8835 or e-mail [email protected]

The new fleet maintenenane manager program includes OSHA Compliance Training, which meets the minimum OSHA training requirements for any employee that handles inflated assemblies and can be conducted in any facility; Custom Fleet Tire Training, which allows the fleet to combine classroom instruction with hands-on training at its facility; and the Truck Tire Training Tour.

For a copy of the Fleet Truck Tire Training Guide, contact TIA at 800-426-8835 or e-mail [email protected]

Fed Prosecutor Probing Bridgestone, Ford Suddenly Leaves Post

The federal prosecutor who last winter boldly issued grand jury subpoenas for a supposed "investigation" of Bridgestone Americas Holding and Ford officials regarding problems with Firestone tires on Ford Explorers quit in early July after the U.S. Justice Department began an investigation of her.

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Miriam Miquelon, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, resigned suddenly on July 7, claiming her federal salary of $120,000 was not enough to handle her teenage child’s college bills.

But news reports said Justice Department officials were looking into allegations of in-office favoritism and other issues, and forced her departure. According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Patrick Murphy said Miquelon’s "work was under investigation."

"The court was not informed of the particulars or the ramifications of this investigation, other than it necessitated her resignation," Murphy said in an AP report.

While there was no word on the disposition of any cases Miquelon was working on at the time of her departure, company officials suspect any investigation of BAH and Ford will likely end.

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Last February, Miquelon subpoenaed at least eight people and scores of evidence and depositions from rollover and tire separation lawsuits filed against the two companies. While it was unclear what her aim was, Miquelon was said to be looking at criminal charges against officials of both companies. However, nothing transpired after the initial subpoenas were issued.

Iinternet Tire Registration OK, Says NHTSA

American consumers are free to register their tires on the Internet, NHTSA ruled in late July, but electronic registration will not supplant traditional written registration cards – for now.

Responding to a RMA request for an interpretation of its registration regulations in light of new technology options, NHTSA said it will "permit electronic registration as a supplement to the required mail in form." The RMA argued that Internet-based tire registration options would improve overall registration rates.

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NHTSA agreed with RMA’s recommendation that tire buyers be given a second card at the time of purchase that would outline any available Internet registration options, and that tiremaker Web sites could include a template to allow buyers to transmit registration information via the Internet, a toll-free telephone number or "other electronic means."

But NHTSA cautioned that the supplemental cards could not "confuse consumers about the purpose of the required form or obscure the importance of owner registration."

NHTSA’s ruling runs counter to the position of tire registration form producer and processor CIMS Inc., which told NHTSA it felt "Web-based tire registration is a bad idea." CIMS asked NHTSA to deny RMA’s review request, arguing that Internet registration would confuse tire dealers and add to their paperwork, and would not significantly increase tire registration.

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To date, only Falken Tire, Yokohama Tire Corp. and Pirelli Tire North America offere registration forms on their Web sites.

TIA SEEKS HALL OF FAME NOMINEES

TIA is accepting nominations for induction to the Tire Industry Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame class of 2003 will be formally inducted at the upcoming International Tire Expo, Nov. 4-7 in Las Vegas.

The Tire Industry Hall of Fame is open to everyone in the tire industry, including manufacturers, inventors, publishers, equipment suppliers, tire dealers and retreaders. Nominations are due Sept. 1, and nomination forms and rules can be found on TIA’s Web site at www.tireindustry.org.

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Past honorees include Harvey Firestone, Frank Seiberling, Edward Babcox, Ed Wagner and dozens of others. Jack Woodland and Bob Purcell were elected to the Hall of Fame last year.

BFNAT Reaches Recall Class Action Settlement

Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire (BFNAT) will spend nearly $15.5 million on a three-year consumer education program as part of its settlement of a national class action suit that stemmed from recalls of its Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires in 2000 and 2001.

The settlement, announced July 24, resolves numerous class action lawsuits filed against the company since the first recall was announced in August 2000. In addition to the consumer education effort, BFNAT agreed that for seven years it would add "cap strips, nylon strips, or comparable technology" to unnamed "certain tires" to improve high speed capability.

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"Class members" in the suit included anyone who owned the tires that were recalled – whether or not they were replaced in the recalls ®“ and did not suffer personal injury or property damage.

BFNAT said it "denies any wrongdoing or liability and believes this action and all related actions are without merit, but entered the settlement to avoid the burden and expense of protracted litigation."

Michelin Bets on Looks and Performance

What are consumers supposed to do with a tire that delivers optimum wet and dry traction, carries an 85,000-mile treadwear warranty, and is designed to maintain its "looks" through its useful life? Michelin North America is betting the answer is: Buy it.

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MNA introduced the Michelin HydroEdge, a T-rated tire it said "makes both a visual and quality statement that’s unmatched in the industry." Introduced to the North American market Aug. 4, the HydroEdge is available in 20 different 14- to 17-inch sizes.

Featuring HydroChutes to "maximize hydroplaning resistance by minimizing water flow turbulence," the tire’s cutting-edge tread design also optimizes dry traction, MNA said. Other features include dual circumferential center grooves to evacuate water, full-depth sipes, and Michelin’s Durablack sidewall treatment that helps "keep the tire looking sharp and black longer," the company said.

 

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