AKRON (Dec. 23, 2015) — After the year we've had, no one can accuse the tire industry of being staid, even though many people view it as an old-line manufacturing business.
As those who work and compete in the field know, the tire business is anything but tired and boring. To the contrary, it's a vibrant global industry — full of intrigue, paced by mega mergers and acquisitions, cutting-edge technology and global aspirations, and people making a difference. 2015 was certainly no exception.
Have any doubts? Just peruse our annual “Year in Review” section in this issue, chock-full of the headlines, companies, individuals and bullet points that made this a year of rampant industry change.
During the past 12 months, one of the most venerated tire manufacturers in the world, Italy's Pirelli & C. S.p.A., was acquired by a Chinese company, China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina), parent of China National Tire & Rubber Co. That this acquisition could happen at all is a testament to how far the Chinese tire industry has come and how much of a player it will be in the future.
This move by ChemChina overlapped with the U.S. International Trade Commission's levying new countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Chinese passenger and light truck tires imported into the U.S. — which, in some cases, doubled the sums Chinese tire companies and importers were paying previously.
While this move slowed or even stopped some shipments of consumer tires into the U.S. from China, it has not had nearly the impact on the U.S. tire market as many tire industry observers expected. It's clear the Chinese tire industry is looking at its long-term prospects and not reacting to a short-term blip.
The farm tire business, not normally known for rapid change, experienced some upheavals over the past 12 months. The biggest move came late in the year when Sweden's Trelleborg A.B. struck a deal to buy CGS Holding a.s., parent of Czech farm and industrial tire maker Mitas a.s., for $1.25 billion.
When completed, this acquisition will shake up the rankings of farm tire businesses, vaulting Trelleborg to the top, or near the top globally among farm tire manufacturers, while giving the company two U.S. tire factories, including its own newly opened plant in South Carolina when a year ago it had none.