The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued 48 new tire plant identity codes-necessary for selling tires in the U.S.-in the past year, including 36 to factories in China.
The latest additions bring to 196 the number of 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 new list also includes codes for new plants for Bridgestone Corp. in Brazil and Mexico, for Pirelli & C. S.p.A. in Romania, for Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. in Thailand and for Kumho Tire Co. Ltd. in China, a code for Indian bicycle and scooter tire maker Monotona Tyres Ltd. as well as a code for English retreader Technic Tyre P.L.C. and polyurethane tire developer Amerityre Corp.
The latest list from the DOT shows 791 codes issued, including 93 issued in the past three years. Of the 791 codes listed, 110 are for plants that are closed and at least 30 are for factories that don't make tires or make only bicycle tires and/or tubes.
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.
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.