SALEM, Va.-Yokohama Tire Corp. plans to lay off an additional 80 production workers at its sole tire plant in Salem in an effort to curb an oversupply of tires. The layoffs, which are expected to be temporary, will be phased in through the end of October and are in addition to the 44 workers the company permanently laid off in August.
Yokohama said it also has taken 15 days out of the plant's production schedule since July using short-term plant shut-downs.
Following these latest layoffs, the Salem plant will employ 925 workers-54 percent more, Yokohama pointed out, than when it bought the facility in 1990.
WASHINGTON-Uniform Tire Quality Grading, which often has been refined or tinkered with, has been changed twice more by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A new top traction grade of ``AA'' has been created, a move supported by Michelin but opposed by other tire manufacturers.
Also, NHTSA has frozen the base course wear rate for course-monitoring tires, an action designed to assure future stability for treadwear grades.
A final rule detailing these changes was published in the Sept. 9 Federal Register and will go into effect March 9, 1998, unless interested parties petition for reconsideration. Oct. 24 is the deadline for comments.
Course-monitoring tires are used as the control standard during the 6,400-mile UTQG treadwear tests, providing a common baseline to grade other tires.
Over the years, NHTSA said, the base course wear rate has crept downward, from 4.44 in 1975 to 1.34 in 1995, causing an inflationary trend in treadwear grades. As a result, the latest grades are ``a somewhat misleading indicator of actual tread life,'' the agency said.
Commenters throughout the tire industry agreed that the base course wear rate needed to be frozen, but creating an AA traction grade was more controversial.
Michelin North America said such a grade would denote tires with superior traction without requiring redefinition of the current A, B and C grades.
Other tire companies, however, said the current traction test is flawed, and creating a new grade merely would accentuate this.
In the end, NHTSA decided to establish the AA grade because it was ``the simplest, least confusing, least burdensome and most cost-effective way of differentiating between those few tire lines with the highest traction performance characteristics.''
PARIS-FIA, the sanctioning body for Formula 1 racing, is considering a ban on slick tires by the 1998 season as a means to reduce cornering speeds and lengthen braking distances-performance ``adjustments'' designed to make races more competitive.
Should the FIA make such a regulation, it might ease Bridgestone Corp.'s entry into the competition in 1998, since both it and Goodyear would be confronted with new performance parameters.
Goodyear would, in effect, lose some of the advantage garnered from seasons of experience as the sole F1 tire supplier with slick tires, which have been the norm in F1 racing since 1970.
The FIA has not yet made an official announcement regarding the proposed change, but observers agree a regulation to this effect would have to define precisely what a tread should be, what the rubber-to-void ratio should be, the tread depth etc.
HENDERSON, Ky.-Accuride Corp., which describes itself as the largest manufacturer of commercial steel rims and wheels in North America, has signed a letter of intent with a subsidiary of Kaiser Aluminum Corp. to form a 50-50 joint venture to produce aluminum wheels for the global commercial transportation industry.
The joint venture, to be located primarily at Kaiser's manufacturing complex in Erie, Pa., will ``design, manufacture and market forged, cast and fabricated aluminum wheels for light and heavy trucks and trailers,'' the companies said.
The venture plans to invest millions of dollars in existing facilities to increase production capacity 40 percent-to more than 500,000 heavy aluminum wheel pieces annually.
Accuride is owned by Phelps Dodge Corp., while Kaiser Aluminum is majority-owned by Maxxam Inc.