By Stephen Downer, Special to Tire Business
CUERNAVACA, MEXICO — Pirelli de Venezuela C.A. said it suspended indefinitely operations at its Guacara plant in Carabobo State, Venezuela, on June 16.
In a news release emailed to Tire Business in Mexico on June 9 the company blamed the “unavailability of raw materials used to make our products” for the decision.
In a subsequent Spanish-language statement emailed to Tire Business in Mexico, Pirelli de Venezuela called the plant's closure “temporary,” noting that the tire maker was suspending the factory's operations “temporarily because of a lack of raw materials.”
It added: “However, the company will do everything possible to ensure the continuation of our tire supplies to the local market.”
A subsequent inquiry sent in late July to Pirelli about the status of the factory was not answered.
Since its formation in 1990, Pirelli de Venezuela has made tires for light vehicles and motorcycles, supplying both the OEM and aftermarkets, according to its website.
At one stage the company employed 898 at the Guacara facility, which is 90 miles southwest of the capital, Caracas, but it's unclear whether that is the actual number of employees affected by the closure.
The plant covers an area of 206,879 square meters (2.2 million square feet), according to the website, which adds that the Venezuelan company has a “technological partnership” with Pirelli S.p.A.
Referring to Venezuela's political unrest and economic problems, Pirelli de Venezuela said: “We're sure that this contingency will have a positive outcome that will benefit both our workers and customers.”
The company added that it continues to have confidence in the country “and our goal is to continue contributing to its growth and progress.”
(In a previous email to Tire Business, a Pirelli spokesman said that other details mentioned in a prior news release had been sent to news media unintentionally “and we apologize for this.”)
In May 2016, Bridgestone Americas Inc. sold its business in Venezuela — Bridgestone Firestone Venezolana C.A. — and assets to a local industrial group, Grupo Corimon. According to the Associated Press, the sale had no financial impact as Bridgestone had already written off its investments in the country.
Bridgestone in Venezuela has since been renamed Alice Neumáticos de Venezuela C.A.
Stephen Downer is a Mexico-based freelance writer who covers that country and Latin America for Tire Business and its Latin America e-newsletter.