GRAPEVINE, Texas—Expansion, productivity improvements and offshore sourcing will allow Goodyear to increase its supply of medium truck tires in North America, a company official said at the firm´s annual tire dealer meeting.
After selling every truck tire it could make last year, the firm will improve productivity for the product at its tire plants in Danville, Va.; Topeka, Kan.; and Buffalo, N.Y. The company said it will add capacity at the Goodyear-Dunlop facility in Buffalo during the second quarter, but wouldn´t give details of the project.
The facilities already are realizing productivity gains as a result of initiatives to cut inefficiencies and streamline processes, according to Steve McClellan, vice president of commercial tire systems, who spoke at the dealer meeting in Grapevine.
U.S. shipments of medium truck and bus tires rose nearly 11 percent last year to 21.8 million units, with original equipment demand up more than a third over 2003, according to Rubber Manufacturers Association preliminary data for 2004. The association predicts growth of 6 percent this year.
To increase supply further, McClellan said Goodyear also will source Steelmark-brand truck tires from the company´s offshore facilities. This will open up additional domestic capacity for Goodyear-, Dunlop- and Kelly-brand truck tires, he said.
Earlier this year, Goodyear said it was evaluating the possibility of having the Steelmark radial truck tire line made in China, most likely by Triangle Tire Co. Ltd. at its factory in Qingdao. Steelmark is Goodyear´s lower-priced truck tire line, below the Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly flag brands, according to company literature.
Along with these moves, McClellan said Goodyear wants to increase supply to the company´s replacement tire customers by "basing OE sales on those strategic accounts that provide our dealers with the best opportunity to sell replacement tires."
In his speech, McClellan announced several new tires and size expansions to the Goodyear truck tire lines. They include a new regional drive tire, the UniSteel G182 RSD, in five sizes; a premium Kelly line haul steer tire, the Kelly Armorsteel KLHA; and three more sizes of its UniSteel G149 RSA regional steer tire for use in urban areas.
The company also said its DuraSeal commercial sealant technology will be offered in two new UniSteel truck tires. For now, the DuraSeal technology will be installed in only one size of the G287 MSA and a more severe-duty version of the tire, the HSS, with availability starting in mid-March, a spokesman said.