News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

February 19, 2010

REACH Consortium Announced for TMQ

Filed under: General, Rubber Chemicals — Notch @ 7:20 am

A REACH registration consortium has been announced for oligomers of 1,2-dihydro-2,2,4-trimethylquinoline (TMQ), with the speciality chemicals company Lanxess as lead registrant for the group.

February 15, 2010

Michelin Releases December Tire Data

Filed under: Tires — Notch @ 4:15 pm

Michelin has released its December 2009 and full year figures for tire sales, and the data offer a continued sense of optimism that the worst of the recession is past. The data show continued recovery in passenger and light truck tires, as well as a slightly more positive outlook for truck tires.

In original equipment passenger car and light truck tire markets, December sales were up strongly in all three of Michelin’s reported regions (Europe, North America, China) compared to December 2008, with Europe up 40.7%, North America up 15.6%, and China up 128.6%. Replacement sales were also up solidly over December 2008 in all regions. Full year (January to December) PC/LT sales are still down for both the OE and replacement segments in Europe and North America, though China’s market is up 65.1% in OE and 16.9% in replacement for full year 2009.

Among Michelin’s reported regions, December’s replacement truck tire sales were up compared to December 2008 in Europe excl. CIS (20.1%), North America (1.7%), Brazil (28.2%), and japan (21.0%), but were down 3.3% in China. December’s original equipment radial truck tire sales were up strongly in Brazil (140.9%) and Japan (25.1%) compared to December 2008, but were flat in North America and declined in Europe excl. CIS and China.

Reflecting the deep and prolonged downturn in this segment, truck tire full year figures were down sharply nearly across the board in both the OE and replacement segments. The lone exception was China’s replacement sales, which were up 2.3%.

Here are the results.

February 10, 2010

Evonik Restructures; Carbon Black Business Under Review – UPDATED

Filed under: Carbon Black, Silica — Notch @ 12:48 pm

Details on this story are not yet available, but according to statements that Evonik has made to the Financial Times Deutschland over the last several days, it appears that Evonik is restructuring its businesses and may break up its three major units dedicated to Energy, Real Estate, and Chemicals. Today, Evonik placed Steag, its energy division, up for sale. As part of this process, Evonik has separated the carbon black business within Evonik’s organizational structure, though the carbon black business continues to operate under Evonik.

It is difficult to determine the extent of the restructuring because all of the statements are in German, and so are based on my rough translation. Evonik has not yet directly responded to a request for clarification. (see below) Under a December 2007 restructuring, the carbon black business operated under the Inorganic Materials unit, part of the Technical Specialties segment. More details as they become available.

Here are the relevant links, all from the Financial Times Deutschland:
Evonik: Zurück auf Los in Essen
Evonik stellt Steag zum Verkauf
Evonik: warum nicht gleich so (audio)
______________________________________________________

An Evonik spokesperson has issued the following statement in response to a request for clarification of the current restructuring:

“The rumours [of a sale of the carbon black business] are not correct. It is correct that the management and employee representatives have agreed to examine a possible carve-out of the carbon blacks business. Any further steps will depend on the outcome of the present examination.”

February 8, 2010

Highlights of Tire Tech 2010

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 7:28 am

I am in Germany this week for the Tire Tech 2010 conference and trade show. As I type this, I can see the huge convention center – the Koelnmesse – from my hotel window.

It’s a packed program with many essential talks, but one session I wanted to highlight is Day 1, Session 2 – The Status of Car Tire Runflat and Run-On Performance. This is essentially a mini-conference on run-flats being held within the larger Tire Tech conference. It will have six talks and a panel discussion, including presentations from Bridgestone Europe, Mercedes, Ford, Pirelli, Goodyear, and Sumitomo. If you have any interest in the sector, this one will be essential.

There are also interesting sessions on Steel and Textile Reinforcements (Session 4), Polymers and Fillers (Session 5), and new manufacturing developments (Session 3). Notch is presenting in Session 1, which addresses conditions after the recession. Day 2 brings sessions on virtual modeling for tire design (Session 1), the Rubber in Engineering Group (Session 2), future developments in commercial tires (Session 3), TYROSAFE (Session 4), Global Regulations (Session 5), and Modern Tire Testing (Session 6).

India Puts Anti-Dumping Duty on Carbon Black

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 7:12 am

India’s Commerce Ministry has imposed anti-dumping duties on imports of rubber blacks from China, Australia, Thailand, and Russia. The duty ranges from $0.084 (about Rs 4) per kg to $0.423 (about Rs 20) per kg, the Central Board of Customs and Excise (CBEC) said in a notification.

Here is the notification. This notice is a followup to the group’s preliminary findings of May 25, 2009.

This blog previously reported on this in an earlier post.

In the statement, the India’s CBEC said that China, Australia, Thailand, and Russia have been exporting carbon black to India below their normal value. The anti-dumping duty would be effective for a period of five years, it said. Unlike safeguard duties, levied in a uniform way, anti-dumping duty varies from product to product and country to country. The purpose of anti-dumping duties is to counteract trade distortions due to cheap imports and the consequential injury to the domestic industry. It is not a measure to restrict imports or cause unjustified increase in cost of the products.

Conti Expanding Retreading Activities in Mexico

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 6:49 am

Rubber News (subscription required) is reporting that Continental Tire North America plans to establish itself in the Mexican retreading market over the next year with the opening of about 15 ContiTread retreading plants. Jasman Co., which operates about 50 Continental tire dealerships in Mexico, opened the first Continental retread plant in Monterrey on January 27 and expects to open two more. According to Rubber News, a Conti spokeswoman said other dealerships will operate the remaining plants, which are expected to open at a pace of one every other month into 2011. Conti also said it is exploring plans for the Canadian market.

February 3, 2010

European Tire Data Shows Fledgling Recovery

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 10:40 am

The European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers’ Association (ETRMA) has released new data covering 2009, and the results show sharp declines over the first eight months of the year followed by steady but relatively mild recovery over the last four months.

ETRMA said European OEM passenger tire sales recorded an 18% decline in 2009 to 65 million, while replacement passenger tire shipments fell by 5 million units to 190 million. Germany, Italy Austria and Poland increased their tire sales in 2009, while France, the United Kingdom and maintained their sales levels from the year earlier or posted small decreases.

In truck tires, ETRMA said replacement shipments fell 16 percent compared to 2008, while OE demand slumped 62 percent. Ag tire shipments declined 16 percent.

Here is the press release.

[Source: Rubber News]

US Tire Import Tariffs – The Battle Switches to Thailand

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 10:23 am

There’s a round of “I told you so” going through the tire industry today. When the tariffs on Chinese tires were introduced last year, many industry observers argued that they would promote imports from neighboring Pacific Rim countries, rather than spurring new production in the US.

Now Rubber News has reported that a new battle is brewing in the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative (USTR) over duty-free treatment of tire imports from Thailand. Three tire makers — Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations L.L.C., Sumitomo Rubber (Thailand) Co., and Falken Tire Corp. — have petitioned the USTR to continue the duty-free status that Thai-made tires currently have under the Generalized System of Preferences. They argue that Thai imports are not a threat to U.S. tire production, and the price increase for all imports caused by the tariffs imposed on Chinese tires last September make it inappropriate at this time to add 4 percent to the price of Thai tires right now.

However, the United Steelworkers disagree, and argue that allowing continued duty-free status for Thai tires would hurt American workers by undermining the effect of the tariffs on Chinese tires. A hearing on the tire makers’ petitions is scheduled for Feb. 11 at USTR headquarters in Washington.

February 2, 2010

Bridgestone Sells Steel Cord Plants in Italy and China to Bekaert

Filed under: General, Tire Cord, Tires — Notch @ 9:13 pm

On Monday, Bridgestone Corporation announced a definitive agreement to sell 100% of the shares of its Italian and Chinese steel cord manufacturing subsidiaries to Belgian-based NV Bekaert SA. The two businesses to be sold are Bridgestone Metalpha Italia S.p.A. (BMI) and Bridgestone (Huizhou) Steel Cord Co., LTD. (BSSH). As part of this transaction, Bridgestone has entered into a long-term tire cord supply agreement with Bekaert to ensure a stable supply of cord. The sale will be completed once the necessary governmental and regulatory approvals are received.

Bridgestone is one of the most vertically integrated companies in the tire industry, internally producing many of the raw and intermediate materials used in tire manufacturing. Prior to the announced sale, Bridgestone operated seven steel cord plants, located in the US, Italy, Thailand, Huizhou and Shenyang in China, and Kuroiso and Saga in Japan.

Here is the press release.

February 1, 2010

Toyo Tires Chooses Location for Chinese Plant

Filed under: Tires — Notch @ 11:09 pm

Toyo Tire & Rubber recently announced the location of its new wholly-owned subsidiary passenger and light truck tire plant in China. The plant, which was announced in August 2009, will be located in Zhangjiagang City, Jiangsu Province. Toyo determined that Jiangsu Province would be the ideal location to establish the new factory, as it already has the necessary infrastructure, work force, and logistical support. Operations are expected to commence by the end of 2011. Initial production capacity during the first phase will be two million units of passenger car and light truck tires.

Here is the press release.

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