AKRON-Five more tire makers have joined Goodyear and its Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. subsidiary in announcing price hikes for the fall. And the strikes currently in progress against four North American tire makers make it more likely these latest increases will stick, according to one veteran observer of the industry.
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., General Tire, Michelin North America, Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp., Yokohama Tire Corp. and Denman Tire Corp. have announced fall price hikes averaging 3 percent-necessary to recoup rising raw materials costs, they said.
Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. initiated this most recent round of price hikes, announcing in August a 2- to 3-percent boost in all Kelly, associate and private brand tire prices, effective Oct. 1. The firm's parent, Goodyear, followed suit in early September, declaring plans to raise prices 2 to 4.5 percent on all replacement lines.
Also raising prices Oct. 1 are:
Yokohama, which will boost prices of Yokohama and Mohawk brand tires 2 to 7.5 percent; and
Denman, which will increase prices 1 to 3 percent on selected specialty tire sizes.
In Yokohama's case, the company said the increase also was due to the appreciation in the value of the Japanese yen.
General Tire plans to raise prices an average of 3 percent on its off-highway lines and 2 percent on its rear farm tires, effective Oct. 1. The company also announced an average price jump of 3 percent on its passenger and light truck lines to start Nov. 1.
A General spokesman cited ``skyrocketing costs in materials-primarily natural rubber and carbon black'' as underlying the firm's decision.
Also hiking prices Nov. 1 are:
Bridgestone/Firestone, which plans to raise prices on all its replacement tires and tubes sold in the U.S. 2 to 4.5 percent;
Michelin, which will increase prices 3 percent for all Michelin, Uniroyal, BFGoodrich, associate and private brand replacement tire lines sold in the U.S.; and
Pirelli Armstrong, which will boost prices 2 to 4 percent on Pirelli- and Armstrong-brand passenger and light truck tires.
Kumho U.S.A. Inc. and Sumitomo Tire Corp. said they are reviewing the situation to decide if the market warrants an increase.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and Dunlop Tire Corp. declined to comment on their pricing plans.
The United Rubber Workers strikes at plants of BFS, Dunlop, Yokohama and Pirelli Armstrong have reduced tire supply, which, combined with the launch of the 1995-model vehicles, should bouy the higher tire prices, at least initially, said Harry Millis of Fundamental Research in Cleveland.
The estimated $1 to $1.50 increase on a tire's sticker price will probably go largely unnoticed among consumers, Mr. Millis said.
Historically, the semi-annual tire price increases are deflated by discounting at the wholesale level.
However, about two-thirds of the price increases last spring, which also averaged 3 percent, survived in the marketplace-the best result in some time, Mr. Millis said. He pointed out, though, that the spring price increase largely served to make up ground lost in the second half of 1993.
Marty Whitford in Akron also contributed to this report.