Yokohama hiking OTR tire capacity
TOKYO-Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. will expand capacity for off-the-road tires for construction, mining and other heavy equipment over the next three years by nearly 50 percent at its plant in Onomichi, Japan.
The project, valued at $4.2 million, will involve building a new factory near the firm's 32-year-old Onomichi plant, Yokohama said.
Production will focus on 25-, 33- and 35-inch radial OTR tires, which make up the lion's share of the market for medium-sized general-purpose construction and mining tires.
Initial production is expected to start by November. Monthly capacity will grow incrementally through 2009 to 1,620 metric tons from 1,100 tons, Yokohama said.
Demand outside Japan accounts for about 80 percent of Yokohama's business in OTR tires.
Pirelli to offer valve-cap monitor
GENEVA, Switzerland-Pirelli & C. S.p.A. is taking its X-Pressure Optic tire pressure warning display system commercial, initially in Italy and then to global availability by year-end.
The X-Pressure Optic, a small pressure-sensing unit that screws onto the valve stem in place of the valve cap and changes color when the pressure falls below 90 percent of the nominal pressure, was shown in prototype form last September.
A set of four X-Pressure Optic valve caps will cost around $62.50, according to Massimo Filippi, platform manager for Pirelli's tire systems division, who said motorists will get this money back in six to 12 months, based on improved fuel economy and longer tire life.
Mr. Filippi said the X-Pressure Optic is being made in 12 varieties, each designed to suit tires with different inflation pressures. The nominal pressure range across the 12 variants is 26 to 43.5 psi.
Mr. Filippe said the sensor within the unit is accurate to 0.3 psi and the color changes when the pressure falls below 90 percent of nominal.
When a motorist buys a set, the dealer will check the recommended tire inflation pressures and sell two pairs (one for the front, one for the rear) designed for the specific vehicle.
Conti, union agree on phase-out plan
HANOVER, Germany-Continental A.G. and the union representing workers at its Stoecken, Germany, plant near Hanover have negotiated a compromise over Conti's planned phase-out of passenger tire production there.
The main feature of the deal is Conti's pledge to initiate no job cuts before year-end 2007 and to open up job opportunities at the plant's truck tire production and research and development areas, according to the union. Conti's original plan called for up to 320 job cuts by year-end 2006 at the plant.
Conti said a group consisting of management and employees' council members will be formed to analyze future perspectives for the plant. The compromise has yet to be approved by the responsible em-ployee representative groups.
Michelin raising stake in Hankook
PARIS-Group Michelin is raising its ownership stake in Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. to 6.3 percent by buying 2 million new shares of stock in the South Korean tire maker.
Michelin said the share purchase would cost $26 million.
The French tire maker has owned a 5-percent share in Hankook since late 2003, when it disclosed its intent to buy up to a 10-percent stake as part of a plan to involve Hankook in its global manufacturing network, especially for the Pax run-flat tire-wheel system.
Nokian boosting plant capacity
NOKIA, Finland-Nokian Tyres P.L.C. will invest $5 million this year to expand capacity at its Nokia plant for heavy radial commercial tires, including farm and forestry tires.
The project, which will run into early 2007, will expand radial capacity by about 30 percent and total capacity by 10 percent, Nokian said. The investment includes equipment for the entire production process and, in particular, enhances the capacity for Nokian's Tractor Industrial 2 and Country King product lines.
This project will boost Nokian's planned capital spending this year 4.5 percent to $115 million.
Bridgestone tire has 3 chambers
TOKYO-Bridgestone Corp. said it has developed a multi-air-chamber tire and wheel that has three separate chambers acting as pressure vessels.
The all-new type of tire contour was born from extensive research and development efforts with a view to the future of tires, the company said.
The inside of the tire consists of a main chamber in the center with its own beads and sub-chambers on both sides. The air pressure in each of the chambers can be controlled independently, making it possible to adjust the stiffness balance between the tread area and the left and right sidewalls.
This ensures ideal contact in any condition, providing a more stable, comfortable ride, Bridgestone said. It also means performance can be adjusted in line with customer needs.
The tire maker said it will continue to develop the tire for more practical use.