DETROIT-One word is inescapable in today's business world: global. The automotive industry is no exception.
U.S. automakers-and their suppliers-have been rapidly expanding into new overseas markets to meet their global goals.
At the same time, automakers have been striving to cut costs by designing global platforms-a common vehicle base which can be tweaked for any market around the world.
But, according to industry experts, that doesn't mean a global platform-for example, Ford Motor Co.'s Contour/Mondeo-will carry a global tire.
It's unlikely that a car company will use the same brand-name tire around the world, according to MaryAnn Keller, an automotive analyst with Furman Selz Inc. ``(Automakers) recognize the tire can help sell the product.''
Tire companies have it different from other suppliers. The tire is the only part that maintains a visible brand name separate from the vehicle.
Customers around the world probably won't look for a Dayco belt or Gates hose under the hood, but they might pay attention to Michelin, Goodyear or Toyo on the sidewall.
Plus, it's doubtful a single tire can meet the demand of such diverse market regions, as well as diverse vehicles, Ms. Keller said.
Les Connolly, Goodyear director of OE tire marketing and sales, said a global tire has its attraction. ``That would be the simple way to do things.'' However, the consumers and local regulations dictate what the tire will be like.
Goodyear's closest products to global tires are its Eagle and Wrangler brands. The brands are available around the world, modified in different ways for each location, Mr. Connolly said. Having a brand known globally is a good selling point to OEMs, he added.
At least one car maker doesn't give a global tire much of a chance. ``We do not foresee a global tire at this point in time because regional vehicle needs vary so dramatically,'' said Chris Hole, director of Ford's chassis core purchasing.