Goodyear hopes to see a volume increase after being named the standard supplier for a string of commercial original equipment supply contracts.
Goodyear said it has been named the standard supplier for Volvo Trucks North America Inc., Mack Trucks Inc., Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. and Freightliner L.L.C. Goodyear previously had been a standard supplier for Mack, which is a subsidiary of Sweden's Volvo Group, but the tire maker was only an approved supplier for the other accounts.
Goodyear also inked three-year agreements to supply tires to Volvo Group in Europe and Brazil, though the tire maker is one of many key suppliers, not a single standard, in that contract.
Since most commercial fleets designate what brand of tire they want on their vehicles, an estimate of the business from these contracts is elusive. Still, Goodyear-which is working to turn around its North American Tire business by 2005-is optimistic.
``We're the standard supplier, and the standard supplier obviously is going to get the bulk of the business by far,'' a Goodyear spokesman said. He added that the business also lends itself to replacement opportunities.
Volvo sold 197,133 trucks in 2002, according to company documents.
But Michelin North America Inc. is counting on Volvo customers to continue to specify Michelin tires for their trucks. The Greenville, S.C.-based tire maker had been the standard supplier before Goodyear but now is an approved supplier, a Volvo Trucks spokesman said. Michelin recently signed a three-year contract for this relationship.
A Michelin spokeswoman said commercial customers routinely specify what products they want for a variety of parts, including engines, brakes and tires.
``They are very often custom orders,'' she said, adding the tire maker sees its agreement as an ``enhancement'' of its relationship with Volvo.
The Volvo and Goodyear spokesmen agreed customers still are able to choose a brand other than the standard brand designated by the vehicle manufacturer.
``In the heavy truck business, people are always specifying what tires they want. Even if it's from the standard supplier, they will specify what type of tire they need,'' the Volvo spokesman said.
Volvo adds some perks for the standard supplier, however. When tires are not specified, Goodyear products will be the default tire. The truck maker also works closer with that tire maker's engineering department for future tire development, the Volvo spokesman said. The standard supplier's tires also are featured on show vehicles and at trade shows.
``This typically drives more volume to the standard supplier,'' he told Tire Business.
He said Volvo chose Goodyear for the position as a result of offers in the contractual negotiations, including pricing, which he said is very important in selecting the standard. He would not offer specifics.
A Freightliner spokesman could not be reached for comment about the company's contract with Goodyear.
In announcing the contract between Fleetwood and Goodyear, the recreational vehicle (RV) maker said it was pursuing strategic alliances.
``Goodyear's extensive research and innovation in the RV market, as well as the company's commitment to service and dealer support, make Goodyear an excellent tire choice for RVs,'' Chris Braun, senior vice president of Fleetwood, said in a statement.