AKRON (Jan. 31, 2002)—Bridgestone/Firestone's well-publicized split with Ford Motor Co. last year did not affect the company's original equipment presence as much as might have been expected.
Although Bridgestone/Firestone told Ford in May it was ending all supply relations with the auto maker, the Nashville, Tenn.-based tire maker continued to fulfill contracts until Ford made other arrangements. As a result, BFS's share of Ford's North American passenger and light truck business slipped about 10 percentage points, to an estimated 30 percent, with Goodyear, Michelin North America Inc. and Continental Tire North America Inc. each picking up a few points of share with Ford.
It remains to be seen whether talks between BFS and Ford officials about a reconciliation bear fruit, and salvage at least a portion of the company's business with North America's No. 2 car maker. BFS's business with Ford last year represented roughly 6 million tires.
Overall, though, BFS's OE presence was barely affected, as it picked up increased business with other car makers, most notably with Toyota Motor Manufacturing Co. Inc. For 2001, BFS's North American OE share is estimated at 24 percent, vs. 27 percent in 2000.
For decades, Goodyear has been the No. 1 supplier of original equipment tires to North American vehicle makers, and 2001 was no exception, supplying an estimated 37 percent of the tires for the 15.8 million cars and light trucks built in the U.S., Canada and Mexico last year.
However, 2003 or 2004, may be another story. The company recently acknowledged it would consider letting certain low or no profit contracts lapse, giving up 7 to 10 percentage points of market share “unless it gets price relief from unprofitable tire lines.”
Besides Goodyear and BFS, Michelin is on par with the latter at 24 percent with Continental claiming the remaining 15 percent, primarily with its General brand. Yokohama Tire Corp. also supplies a few selected models, but its share is less than 1 percent.
On the replacement front, the fallout from the Firestone recalls cost the Firestone brand a couple of points of passenger tire market share, down to about 6 percent of the combined U.S. and Canadian markets. Compensating to a degree, however, was a 1-point gain by the Bridgestone brand, to an estimated 5 percent. Both the Goodyear and Michelin brands picked up a point of share, to 17 and 10 percent, respectively.
All market shares are estimates by Tire Business based on interviews with automotive and tire industry sources.