News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

May 31, 2011

Japanese car production fell 60% in April

JAMA (Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Inc.) have released their latest production figures for Japanese automobile production, which provide a picture of the effect of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that struck the northeast coast of Japan on March 11.

Passenger car production in April was down 60.2% from the same month last year, while truck production was down 57.5% compared to April 2010 and bus production was down 80%. Total Japanese automobile production in April 2011 was 292,001 units, including 249,772 passenger cars, 40,305 trucks, and 1,924 buses.

Domestic sales of automobiles fared slightly better, with passenger car sales down 48.5%, truck sales down 40.4%, and bus sales down 53.7%.

On a monthly basis, Japanese automobile production was down 38% in April 2011 compared to March 2011, when production totaled 404,039 units. Passenger car production was down 28% in April 2011 compared to March 2011, while truck production was down 21% and bus production was down 59%.

Full figures available here.

May 25, 2011

Chevy Cruze launches without spare, no run-flats

Filed under: General, Run-flats, Tires — Notch @ 7:15 am

Bob Ulrich at Modern Tire Dealer notes something that also caught my eye. More and more cars are eliminating their spare tire to save weight and space, but many are replacing them with inflator kits (and cell phones) rather than run-flats to compensate.

With the announcement that the 2011 Chevy Cruze is foregoing a spare tire in order to improve gas mileage comes a few comments about run-flat tires.

Did the Cruze come with them? I found it hard to believe it would, given its less-than-ultimate-driving-machine stature.

The answer? No, run-flat tires were not original equipment on the Cruze. It comes with an on-board tire inflator kit.

By shedding 26 pounds of tire and jacking hardware, the Cruze has an EPA-estimated 42 miles per gallon on the highway, “the best highway mileage of any non-hybrid, gasoline-fueled, compact available in the U.S. market,” according to General Motors Corp.

Yokohama begins Philippine expansion

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 7:05 am

On May 23, Yokohama Tire held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of expansion work at the company’s Clark Freeport Zone tire factory, located 40 miles northwest of Manila. The 50 billion yen project will boost annual capacity from seven to seventeen million tires by 2017.

Michelin expects rubber production to grow 40% over next decade

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 7:00 am

Michelin said it expects global rubber production to grow 40% in the next decade, averting a market shortage and a price surge, Bloomberg News reported. Three-quarters of the expected output gain will come from productivity improvements by Asian producers, Managing Partner Jean-Dominique Senard told shareholders Friday at the company’s annual meeting near its headquarters in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Michelin expects to add the equivalent of a new plant globally each year to harness tire demand growth averaging 9 percent in emerging markets.

China to appeal WTO ruling on US tire import duties

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 1:12 am

From R&P News (subscription required) comes word that China plans to appeal a World Trade Organization ruling from last December that supported the U.S. government’s decision in 2009 to impose severe duties on imports of consumer tires from China. China notified the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body May 24 of its decision to appeal the panel report in dispute case DS399, “US—Measures Affecting Imports of Certain Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Tyres from China.”

May 15, 2011

BRISA Announces $285 Million Investment

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 11:02 pm

From European Rubber Journal comes word that Turkish tire maker BRISA has announced investments of $285 million over four years. The investments will largely be spent on maintenance and upgrades at the company’s factory in Izmit, Turkey.

Conti Expanding Mount Vernon, Building New Plant in Russia

Filed under: Carbon Black, General, Rubber Chemicals, Tire Cord, Tires — Notch @ 10:33 pm

On Thursday, May 12, Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C. announced plans to invest $224 million to expand its tire plant in Mount Vernon, Illinois, a project that will add 444 new full-time jobs at the plant. The project, which brings Conti’s total investment in the plant since 2006 to $486 million, will result in a significant increase in tire-producing capacity of nearly 4 million additional passenger and light truck tires annually. About $171 million of the planned investment will be used for new machinery and equipment, while the remaining $53 million will be directed at infrastructure upgrades.

Here is the press release.

According to Rubber & Plastics News (subscription required), in addition to expansion of passenger and light truck tire capacity, Conti’s commercial vehicle tire division will increase capacity at Mount Vernon by 15% by December 2012, bringing annual capacity to 3.15 million tires per year. The first 5% increase has already been achieved, according to Conti.

In addition to the the Illinois expansion, European Rubber Journal reports that Continental also plans to build a new car tyre plant in Russia. The company reportedly will choose a site by the end of June for a plant expected to be operational by the end of 2013. The plant would have capacity for 4 million units annually and represents an investment of around euro 200 million over the four-year period.

Cancarb: Fifth Thermal Black Unit Already Online

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 8:36 pm

Here is some additional information about Cancarb’s maintenance program, which this blog covered late last week.

Canada-based Cancarb, which is the world’s largest producer of N990 thermal black, recently completed a maintenance program to keep up with strong demand. The company has five production units at its plant in Alberta, Canada with a total of 45,000 tonnes of capacity. Under the program, Cancarb restarted the plant’s fifth unit about two weeks ago. The unit was idled in 2008. This additional capacity allowed Cancarb to maintain shipments while doing a phased shut-down of two other units for maintenance turnarounds. The second of these unit turnarounds was completed on Friday, May 13, and the company expects all five units to be operating at maximum rates by this week.

Continental Carbon to Provide Technology for SABIC/ExxonMobil Carbon Black Joint Venture

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 7:06 pm

Al-Jubail Petrochemical (KEMYA), a 50/50 joint venture between Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) and ExxonMobil Corporation, has signed a long-term technology licensing agreement with Houston-based Continental Carbon Company. Under the agreement, Continental Carbon, which is a subsidiary of Taiwan-based CSRC, will provide technology related to the construction and operation of a new greenfield carbon black plant at KEMYA’s petrochemical complex at Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia.

In addition to the technology agreement, KEMYA and Concarb have also signed a long-term product off-take agreement in which Concarb will market part of the production of the new carbon black plant to the local and international tire industry. The final decision to implement the carbon black project requires the approval of KEMYA’s Board of Directors.

The project will also include a synthetic rubber plant, with a total capacity of 400,000 tonnes per year to serve emerging local and international markets in Asia and the Middle East. Goodyear Tire & Rubber will provide technology for the production of SBR and polybutadiene rubber. The project also includes the establishment of a vocational training center and product application development and support center, aligned with Saudi Arabia’s National Industrial Clusters Development Program to grow and diversify the manufacturing sector in Saudi Arabia.

KEMYA also awarded FEED contracts to Jacobs Engineering Inc. and Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding for process units and to Fluor Transworld Services Inc. for associated support facilities.

May 12, 2011

Conti sells 10 millionth run-flat tire

Filed under: Run-flats — Notch @ 5:54 pm

On Friday May 6, 2011, some seven years after first launching its SSR run-flat technology, Continental produced its ten millionth run-flat tire. The milestone tire was produced at the company’s passenger tire plant in Aachen, Germany – one of three million run-flats expected to be produced this year at the factory, which can produce a total of nine million passenger car tires per year, with a focus on high-end, specialized tires including high performance and ultrahigh performance. The SSR run-flat tires produced in Aachen are supplied to numerous OEM customers, including BMW, Ford Mercedes-Benz, Mini and Volvo.

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