AKRON—General Motors Corp.'s decision to phase out its 103-year-old Oldsmobile brand apparently will have little tire industry impact.
The auto maker announced Dec. 12 it would discontinue the Olds nameplate over the next three years, or sooner, if the brand is no longer "economically viable."
Oldsmobile's sales through the end of November stood at nearly 266,000 units, down 18.5 percent vs. 1999, according to Automotive News, a sister publication of Tire Business. The brand's sales have declined steadily since 1986, when more than 1 million Oldsmobiles were sold.
According to TB estimates, Michelin North America Inc. provides about 40 percent of the original equipment tires used by GM. A Michelin spokeswoman said the company provides OE tires for three Oldsmobile models: Alero, Aurora and Bravada.
However, only about 25 percent of Michelin's tire sales are OE, the spokeswoman said.
"We've got a real balance between OE and replacement," she said, "so we've got enough time to make up for lost business."
Goodyear provides about 35 percent of the OE tires used by GM, and a Goodyear spokesman said "It's too early to tell what the effect (of Oldsmobile's demise) will be."
The same tires Goodyear provides for Oldsmobile are on Pontiac and Buick models, he said. "From everything GM is telling us, there won't be a decline in volume," he added. "GM will sell more Pontiacs and Buicks to make up the difference."
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. provides about 11 percent of GM's OE tires. A BFS spokeswoman said the Oldsmobile Silhouette (sales of more than 37,000 units through Nov. 30, according to AN) is the only Oldsmobile OE fitment for BFS. There will be little impact in the short term, the BFS spokeswoman said, because GM is phasing out Oldsmobile over an indefinite period of time.
Continental General Tire Inc. fits about 14 percent of GM's OE tires. A spokesman said that firm's only Oldsmobile OE fitment also is for the Silhouette minivan.
"We foresaw the problems with the Oldsmobile brand," he said, "and we are looking for other channels."