The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued 43 new DOT tire plant codes-needed for selling tires in the U.S.-during 2004 and early 2005.
That number includes 25 to companies representing Chinese tire makers and codes for Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd.'s new U.S. plant in White, Ga., and Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s converted tread rubber plant in Athens, Ga.
There are now 160 tire factories in China with a DOT new tire plant code, according to the Department of Transportation's database. Industry sources indicate there may be as many as 300 tire plants in China, although a great number of these are said to be making primarily bicycle and/or scooter tires and tubes. The latest list from the DOT shows 740 codes issued, including 195 issued in the past five years.
The DOT symbol indicates the tire maker certifies the tire meets all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard requirements. The manufacturer is not required to test the tires, but if they are sold in the U.S. they are subject to random testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with penalties assessed if the tires aren't in compliance with federal standards. Tires found not in compliance with these federal standards will be recalled, and the manufacturer is subject to civil penalties of up to $5,000 per tire, up to a maximum of $15 million for any related series of violations, according to agency documents.
Of the 740 codes listed, 111 are for plants that are closed and 28 are for factories that don't make tires or make only bicycle tires.
Officially, the transportation department keeps codes for closed or sold plants in its active list for up to eight years after a change occurs, covering the limit of legal jurisdiction in which the DOT has to order a recall.