size only – P185/65R14 ®“ and all tires produced before and after the lot in question meet quality standards.
Cooper reported the tires have a localized area of thin innerliner gauge which could result in accelerated air loss and subsequent early failure. The company has identified potential causes for the problem. Total production for this specification was 16,175 tires, of which Cooper has recovered all but 6,237.
Ikawa named president as Ogden leaves Yokohama
After three and a half years as president and COO of Yokohama Tire Corp., Dan Ogden has left the company to devote more time to his family and to a burgeoning Internet company near his Arizona home. Yokohama named Koji Ikawa president and CEO of the company.
While with Yokohama, Ogden commuted between his home in Arizona and the tire company’s Fullerton, Calif., headquarters. Ogden is a major shareholder in Appointment Zone Inc., and has served on the e-commerce and planning company’s board of directors since 1996. He has taken an unnamed executive role with that firm.
Ikawa was previously the head of manufacturing at Yokohama Rubber in Japan. Ikawa’s involvement in the U.S. market dates back to 1969 when he was part of the team that established Yokohama’s operations here.
Michelin goes extra wide with new X-One line
Michelin North America has introduced the X-One, an extra wide single tire designed to replace duals on tandem axle tractors and trailers. Initially, the X-One will be available in size 445/50R22.5 in Michelin’s XDA drive pattern and XTA trailer tire pattern.
According to Michelin, the single X-One radial is interchangeable with dual low profile tires and requires no vehicle modifications. The X-One, said the company, reduces weight, lowers rolling resistance due to compounding and aerodynamics, and improves fuel economy. Fewer wheels mean fewer tires to mount, dismount, inspect and rotate, resulting in less vehicle downtime, said Michelin.
Incorporating a unique belt construction to stabilize the wide footprint and optimize wear and handling, the X-One features conventional full-width steel belts and one radial ply, which complements the stabilizing action of the tire, said Michelin.
Currently, the X-One XDA is available as an OE option on 6×4 tractors from Freightliner, Sterling and Western Star, while the X-One XTA is available as an OE option through major trailer manufacturers.
NHTSA probing Goodyear LT/SUV tires
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a preliminary investigation into load range E light truck/SUV tires produced by Goodyear between 1991 and 1999.
NHTSA had received 37 tread separation complaints about Goodyear-built load range E tires, including reports of 31 accidents that resulted in 15 deaths and more than 100 injuries, before it announced its investigation Nov. 20. According to Goodyear, it produced more than 27 million of the subject tires under dozens of names and sizes, and estimates that some 13 million remain in service.
Goodyear-produced load range E light truck/SUV tires have been used as OE on large commercial pick-up trucks, vans and SUVs, many of which were modified for use as airport shuttles, school vans, delivery vans, work trucks, police and emergency service vehicles, church vans, and in military applications. Rarely, said the company, were the tires used on consumer vehicles.
Goodyear said it is cooperating fully with federal investigators, and has voluntarily provided documents and data to NHTSA.
The preliminary investigation allows NHTSA to determine if it should proceed with a full investigation. If NHTSA concludes there is no reason for a full investigation, it will close the case. Only if a full engineering investigation discovers a defect could NHTSA order a recall of the tires.
Goodyear, in a prepared statement, said: “The tread separations in question are the most common form of failure on all load range E tires,” but that separations can be caused by low air pressure, over-loaded vehicles and road hazard damage.
The company noted that “it immediately launches a thorough investigation” whenever an ®unusual pattern of customer inquiries® about its products occurs, and that such was the case in 1995 when it launched an inquiry of its load range E tires. After two years of ®testing and re-testing every possible scenario,® Goodyear engineers found nothing wrong with the tires.
However, after its investigation Goodyear did begin adding a nylon overlay to its load range E tires to counter overloading by users.
Recall almost done, rebuilding begins
Latest news about Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.’s (BFS) recall:
®′ In late November, BFS said there was a sufficient supply of BFS replacement tires available to satisfy the remainder of the recall of P235/75R15 Radial ATX, ATXII and certain P235/75R15 Wilderness AT tires. “With the exception of some smaller markets, mainly in the Midwest and upper Northeast, waiting lists for Firestone replacement tires have been eliminated,” the company said. While its stated goal was to complete the entire recall by the end of November, as of Nov. 17 the recall was only about 80% complete, according to BFS. The company estimated that it had ®provided® 5.5 million tires in less than four months under its voluntary recall.
®′ In a move to rebuild consumer confidence, BFS increased from 53 to 97 the number of passenger and light truck/SUV lines covered under its Firestone Gold Pledge and Bridgestone Platinum Pact warranty and 30-day money back guarantee programs. The programs now cover nearly every BFS consumer tire. At the same time, however, BFS reduced the number of years the warranty programs extend from five years from the date of original ownership to three years.
®′ In late October, federal judges agreed to consolidate a reported 160 individual lawsuits against BFS under the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. BFS said it was pleased by the court action, saying it would prevent needless repetition of fact gathering and lead to speedier resolution of the cases. On Nov. 17, Judge Sarah Evans Barker, who will oversee the lawsuit consolidation, ordered BFS to stop destroying recalled tires until an undetermined number could be preserved as evidence in the lawsuits.
®′ Appearing at BFS’s consumer tire dealer meeting in Las Vegas, held during the International Tire Expo, Bridgestone Corp. Chairman Yoichiro Kaizaki said that none of the three investigative teams he sent to review BFS manufacturing and tire development processes found any major problems. Kaizaki also stated Bridgestone’s support for BFS and the Firestone brand. “Our mission is to rebuild the Firestone brand for you, our dealers.”
®′ On Oct. 12, Lexington Quality Tire & Lube of Homes County, Miss., filed suit against BFS in U.S. District Court, charging that “misconduct” by BFS led to the recall of 6.5 million Wilderness AT, ATX and ATX II tires, that the company had prior knowledge of tire problems and did not disclose them to the plaintiff, and conducted false/misleading advertising of its tires. The suit, which could gain class action status, claims Lexington Quality Tire & Lube has incurred financial losses because of the recall, and seeks unspecified compensatory damages, attorney fees, and an award of BFS’s profits from the sales of all tires currently under recall.
®′ At its consumer tire dealer meeting, BFS said that September and October sales of Firestone tires in the U.S. were off 40% compared to 1999, but that increased sales of other BFS brands helped offset the decline. Overall, BFS consumer tire sales were down 10% during that period, according to the company.
®′ In mid-October BFS released claims data on some 48 million total tires manufactured between 1992 and 2000, including the Wilderness AT, ATX and ATX II. All told, BFS received some 2,800 total complaints, or .006% of the total. USA Today reported Nov. 15 that more than 1,100 owners of Firestone ATX tires complained to BFS about tire-related problems between 1989 and 1999, according to claims data examined by the newspaper. The newspaper, however, had no correlation between the tire sizes and/or the vehicles on which the alleged problems occurred.
BFS cuts production further to solve inventory backup
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. (BFS), which implemented inventory-adjusting layoffs last month, announced a new round of cutbacks that will take effect Jan. 21, 2001. The Nashville-based tire maker will temporarily layoff approximately 700 workers at its Oklahoma City, Okla., plant, and another 400 at its LaVergne, Tenn., plant. In addition, BFS will curtail production at its Warren County, Tenn., truck tire plant.
In addition, BFS’s OTR equipment tire plant in Bloomington, Ill., has temporarily laid off some 37 workers, again due to sales declines.
In October, BFS announced it would reduce production at the LaVergne and Oklahoma City plants for a pair of two-week periods, cut production for a two-week period at its Decatur, Ill., plant, and indefinitely lay off approximately 450 Decatur workers.
BFS built up an inventory of passenger, light truck/SUV and medium truck tires in anticipation of potential work stoppages during its recently concluded contract negotiations with the United Steelworkers of America.
“We’re in a situation where sales of replacement tires have declined for several reasons,” said John Lampe, BFS’s chairman, chief executive officer and president, who cited consumer confidence in the aftermath of the Firestone recall as one reason. ®The entire industry is also experiencing a slowdown in sales of both OE and replacement truck tire sales.®
BFS cut down to four units as Lampe reorganizes
New Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. (BFS) Chairman, President and CEO John Lampe has begun assembling his management team, and has reformed the company into a much tighter organization.
Formerly comprised of over 20 separate units, BFS has been consolidated into four operating groups under Lampe in a move the company said was “designed to speed decision-making, increase the accountability of senior managers, and ensure greater consistency in its operating procedures.”
The new units and top management include:
U.S. Commercial Tire: Combines BFS’s once separate truck, OTR and agricultural tire units and its tube operations under Chuck Ramsey, now president of the group.
U.S. Consumer Tire: Pulls together all replacement consumer and OE tire sales, retail operations and credit card business under Shu Ishibashi, the group president.
International Tire Operations: All of BFS’s international tire operations are now under Mark Emkes, group president. Vito DeFlorio, currently president of Bridgestone/Firestone Argentina will hold the concurrent positions as head of the company’s Brazilian and Argentine operations, and will report to Emkes.
Manufacturing and Technology Operations: BFS Vice Chairman Isao Togashi will head this group, which will combines all research, technology and manufacturing operations. Reporting to Togashi are Shigehisa Sano, president of product development; Itsuo Miyake, president of research; and Nobuo Kawakami, president of manufacturing operations. ®′