BFS to replace 297,000 Steeltex
NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Bridgestone/Firestone (BFS) is replacing 297,000 Firestone Steeltex Radial A/T tires, size LT265/75R16, Load Range D, in what it calls a voluntary safety campaign.
The tires-all original equipment on 2000-2002 and some 2003 Ford Excursions-were manufactured in Joliette, Quebec, between March 1999 and December 2002.
Preliminary data BFS reviewed as part of its early warning system suggested the tires were performing below expectations, the company said in a press release.
A company spokesman told Tire Business although the Joliette Load Range D tires performed well in the field when properly inflated and not overloaded, there were reports of impact damage in underinflated, overloaded tires that were over and above what the company expected in those conditions.
Because BFS no longer makes the Steeltex Radial A/T tires in Load Range D, Ford Motor Co. and BFS will replace them free of charge with the same model in Load Range E, and also with the Steeltex R4SII LR E, the Bridgestone Duravis M773II LR E, the Pirelli Scorpion AT and Scorpion STR, and the BFGoodrich Rugged Trail TA.
BFS faces a March 17 court hearing in the California Superior Court at Indio, where plaintiffs' attorney Joseph L. Lisoni seeks certification of his class-action lawsuit seeking the court-ordered recall of some 30 million Steeltex tires.
The BFS spokesman said that, if anything, the voluntary campaign bolsters the company's argument that the tires are safe.
``This is proof that we're committed to safety,'' he said.
``We'll identify and review the data on our tires, and if we find any irregularities, we'll replace the tires before they become a problem.''
He pointed out that the campaign involves just one of 103 Steeltex models made to more than 300 individual specifications. ``The data show clearly that all the tires are performing well,'' he said.
N.C. Goodyear workers organize
STATESVILLE, N.C.-The United Steelworkers of America (USWA) has successfully organized workers at Goodyear's tire mold plant in Statesville, N.C., according to the Pittsburgh-based labor union.
A majority of production and maintenance workers have signed USWA authorization cards, an independent arbitrator confirmed. About 130 Statesville workers now will recognize the USWA as their bargaining agent, the union said.
The workers were organizd through a neutrality agreement in the 2003 USWA-Goodyear labor agreement. The neutrality agreement provides Statesville workers with a guaranteed first contract without the risk of a work stoppage.
Work will soon begin on negotiating an agreement, the USWA said.
Statesville becomes the first Goodyear production facility to organize with a union in more than 30 years, the last being the Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. plant in Fayetteville, N.C. in 1972. The United Rubber Workers union-which organized that facility-merged with the USWA in 1995.
RMA sees tread rubber growth
WASHINGTON-U.S. tread rubber shipments improved ``markedly'' in the second half of 2003 and are expected to continue growing this year as the strengthening economy sparks growth in the trucking industry, the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) said.
The RMA did not disclose exact tonnage or value figures but said the amount of tread rubber shipped last year was used to produce 16 million retreaded tires in the U.S., down slightly from the 2002 production estimate.
The RMA's Tread Rubber Market Analysis Committee forecasts shipment growth of 2.9 percent annually through 2005.
The committee consists of market analysts from the major U.S. tread rubber makers, whose businesses represent more than 90 percent of U.S. tread rubber shipments.
Former Conti chairman dies
BERLIN-Helmut Werner, 67, the former chairman of Continental A.G. and Mercedes-Benz A.G., died Feb. 6 in Berlin.
Mr. Werner, who joined Conti in 1979, served as its chairman from 1982-87, during which time he oversaw the company's drive for a more international presence, including the 1987 acquisition of GenCorp Inc.'s General Tire subsidiary.
The acquisition vaulted Conti at that time into the No. 4 slot in global tire sales, just ahead of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.
Next in TB...
As the current winter season begins to dwindle, dealers already are looking toward what snow tires they may need to order for next winter. Catch the March 15 issue of Tire Business, which will include a special Winter Tire Update.