LAKEVILLE, Ind. (May 21, 2002) – Specialty tire manufacturers Hoosier Tire & Rubber Corp. and Specialty Tires of America (STA) Inc. are petitioning the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to exclude low-volume specialty and bias-ply tires from proposed new federal tire safety standards and allow them to be governed by the existing regulations.
Denman Tire Corp. also is involved in the process, but has not commented publicly yet.
Both Hoosier and Specialty said in written statements they would be forced to discontinue certain product lines unless they are granted relief.
Specialty said in a statement to NHTSA that if its products are subject to the testing requirements proposed by the new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 139, “compliance at any cost will not be possible” for a large portion of its product range.
“This action would result in an adverse effect on more than 25 percent of our revenue and employment and remove from the market a number of perfectly safe products.” One product line singled out by STA is tires for collector car enthusiasts.
Hoosier has gone so far as to appeal to customers of its DOT-approved specialty tires to help it seek an exemption to certain provisions of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act.
While fully supporting the act's guidelines as they pertain to street tires, Hoosier claims the proposal would have a “devastating impact” on its ability to make DOT-approved specialty tires for racing at affordable prices.
“At a minimum,” the company wrote in a letter to customers on its Web site, “if required to comply with the proposed standards, the cost of Hoosier DOT specialty tires will dramatically increase. But more likely, Hoosier might be forced to exit these markets and cease offering tires…due to cost ramifications resulting from complying with the new standards.
“While these increased standards are long overdue on mass-produced passenger car/light truck tires,” the company wrote, “we feel they were not applicable to small quantities of specialized tires that have had an exemplary safety record.”
In its Web letter, Hoosier suggests that the DOT exempt passenger and light truck tires with annual production runs of no more than 15,000 units of the same size and design from the new regulations.
The Web letter outlines how customers can submit comments to the Department of Transportation via the DOT's Web site.
Hoosier Tire claims to be the largest race tire maker in the world, producing more than 1,000 types of race tires at its plant in Plymouth, Ind. It supplies DOT-approved racing tires to dozens of racing series in asphalt and dirt oval track, road racing and drag racing.
It also sells Hoosier private brand passenger and light truck radials that are made by Goodyear's Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. unit.