SmarTire to supply Korean auto makers
RICHMOND, British Columbia-SmarTire Systems Inc. will co-develop, manufacture and distribute tire monitoring products to South Korean auto makers and the aftermarket there as part of an agreement with Hyundai Autonet Co. Ltd. (HACO).
As part of the agreement, HACO, a Korean automotive electronics supplier, will initially contribute $300,000 for engineering changes to make SmarTire's products ready for the Korean market and for development of technology to meet specific needs in the market, Richmond-based SmarTire said.
The Korean supplier is a subsidiary of the Hyundai Group. Its sales are more than $520 million, and its major customers include Hyundai Motor Co., KIA Motors Corp., Ssangyong Motor Co. and other auto makers.
Nokian makes snow tires `greener'
NOKIA, Finland-Nokian Tyres P.L.C.'s latest snow tire, the Hakkapeliitta 4, features a tread rubber compound that contains rape-seed oil, which the company claims offers both environmental and performance advantages.
Nokian is using the rape-seed oil in place of more environmentally harmful HA-oils with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are banned in Finland. Pressed from seeds of the rape plant-a member of the cabbage family-rape-seed oil is a biodegradable and renewable natural resource, Nokian said. In addition, Nokian claims the oil improves the tire's cold weather properties and enhances its tear resistance.
The tire also features square studs that improve ice grip by about 8 percent over the previous model, the Hakkapeliitta 2.
The Hakkapeliitta 4 is being marketed as a sporty tire in several low-profile 16-, 17- and 18-inch sizes. It is aimed at the Nordic and Russian consumer markets.
Goodyear may scale back U.K. plant
WOLVERHAMPTON, England-Goodyear Dunlop Tyres U.K. is considering ending tire production at its Wolverhampton plant but continuing mixing, calendering and retreading operations at the closure-threatened facility.
The company put forward the scenario in a Feb. 7 statement in response to media speculation following a ``high-level'' management/union meeting at the site, said James Bailey, Goodyear Dunlop Tyres spokesman.
The meeting, which was requested by the unions, did not produce any new proposals for improving the competitiveness of the plant, Mr. Bailey said.
Instead, the management repeated comments made previously by Lowell Dunckel, Goodyear's senior vice president, global product supply, about the plant's future.
According to the management: ``There is a market requirement for Wolverhampton products for the foreseeable future, particularly in the areas of mixing, calendering and retreading.'' The Wolverhampton unit currently supplies compound and materials to Goodyear's other U.K. facilities at Washington and Birmingham, England.
But, said the company, ``cost competitiveness continues to be a major challenge, especially in the areas of passenger tires, radial light truck tires and farm (tires), and the situation will continue to be under review.''
Wolverhampton employs 1,100.
Federal Corp. reports higher sales
TAIPEI, Taiwan-Taiwanese tire maker Federal Corp. reported an 18.9-percent increase in sales last year, to $122 million, with sales to overseas customers growing at a much higher rate.
Sales to markets outside Taiwan and China accounted for $69.2 million, Federal said, up 28.7 percent over 2001 to account for more than half of the firm's overall sales.
``The growth we achieved is very satisfying and is the direct result of implementing our strategies,'' said President Jamie Ma in a prepared statement. ``Much effort was put in by our research and development to develop more sizes for every tire model. We have also made significant investments in new equipment that allows us to keep pace with the growth, enhance quality and manufacture at a very effective cost.''
Mr. Ma credited demand for the firm's SS-595 ultra-high performance tire for much of the overseas sales growth. To accommodate this strong growth, Federal had transferred production of all 70- and 80-series tires to its Jiangxi, China, plant, where production capacity will double this year.
Federal will strengthen its line-up this year with the addition of the Couragia sport-utility vehicle tire, due to be launched during the third quarter, according to Richard Huang, vice president, sales and marketing.