DETROIT (March 2, 2001)—General Motors Corp. will replace some of the Firestone tires on its upcoming vehicles with Bridgestone-brand tires.
"This is a transition among tire brands within the same company, not the outsourcing of (Firestone´s) tires to other tire manufacturers," a GM spokesman said.
The auto maker will alter some of the tire fitments beginning with 2002 models, he said, and announce specifics on the rollout of new vehicles and their respective fitments in late spring or early summer.
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. and GM began discussions on the changes in December 1999, with the tire maker pointing out that unlike its competitors, GM had very little balance between the Bridgestone and Firestone brands, the GM spokesman said. Bridgestone/ Firestone had an estimated 22 percent of GM original equipment fitments. All but one of those fitments—a small-volume, medium-duty truck—currently are Firestone, according to the spokesman.
"We considered it a viable option, one we wanted to pursue," he said. "From a global perspective, to have choices and balance between the two brands is something that will help us in our export business."
The brand changes target vehicles manufactured in North America and exported to countries where Bridgestone has greater name recognition than Firestone, he said.
"We have agreed that in some additional cases supplying Bridgestone tires was in line with the global goals of both companies at this point in time," Bridgestone/Firestone said in a prepared statement.
Aside from its greater name recognition worldwide, Bridgestone is a premium brand tire suited for GM´s luxury vehicle lines, the tire maker said. "Additionally, one of the goals of Bridgestone/Firestone has been to balance the exposure of both brands in the OE market, and this is in line with that initiative," the company said.
The Firestone recall that began in August was a factor in GM´s decision to switch brands on some of its vehicles, but not the determining factor, the GM spokesman said. Discussions between the two companies began eight to nine months before the recall. "But some of our customers had some concerns, and we listen to our customers," he said. "We´re not walking away from Firestone, though."
Ms. Begin writes for Rubber & Plastics News, a sister publication of Tire Business.