GREENVILLE, S.C. (May 25, 2001)- -Michelin North America is going to full capacity at all of its North American passenger and light truck tire manufacturing plants in anticipation of the demand created by Ford Motor Co.'s announced recall of up to 13 million Firestone Wilderness AT tires. And that means turning out out tires 24 hours a day, seven days a week as soon as possible, the company said.
“Some facilities can gear up faster than others,” said Jim Micali, the President and Chairman of Michelin North America, Inc. “Our plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for example is currently in a scheduled shutdown, so it will take longer than say, Opelika, Alabama, where we've already have announced the addition of another shift.”
Last fall, Michelin said it turned out an additional 2 million tires to help fill the void created by the Firestone recall of 6.5 million tires.
The company said it also will make the process of replacing the Firestone tires as convenient as possible for consumers. A Michelin Ford Customer Service Support Center is being established and will be operational at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, May 25.
The Michelin Ford Customer Service Support Center will manage the fulfillment of Ford dealership orders, from Michelin plants, through Michelin´s dealer network, and on to the vehicle dealership, the company said.
The Greenville-based tire maker said it is buying molds and adding capacity in order to meet growing demand due to Ford's replacement campaign.
The tires in question are original equipment on some of Ford's most popular light truck and SUV models. As Firestone's OE contracts with Ford expire, Michelin said it expects to be asked to supply tires for other Ford vehicles.
The company said it already is the lead supplier on the 2002 model year Explorer, with some 70 percent of that vehicle's production mounted on Michelin brand tires. France-based Group Michelin Group is a long-time supplier to Ford and its Volvo brand. Michelin is also the tire partner for Jaguar's Formula 1 racing team.
In addition to increasing domestic production, the company says it will rely on its international network of manufacturing facilities to import tires and balance supply and demand.
“We are going wide open to meet the needs created by this replacement campaign.” Said Jim Zickos, MNA's Director of Planning. “The help we get from our colleagues abroad will ensure that we continue to satisfy consumers who need to change out their Firestone tires and at the same time meet the needs of all the other customersÃ .”