AKRON—Status quo reigned over the 2017 global tire rankings, even as the estimated value of the entire industry declined for a third straight year.
Bridgestone Corp. retained the No. 1 spot for the ninth straight year, with tire-related sales of $22.1 billion, comfortably ahead of Michelin's $21.1 billion and Goodyear's $13.5 billion, according to research by Rubber & Plastics News sister publication Tire Business.
That said, all three reported lower sales than in 2015, as did more than half of the companies in this year's Top 75 ranking.
Most of the bigger decliners were Chinese companies, who were affected disproportionately by the imposition of elevated import duties in the U.S. and a few other countries.
Many of the major western companies also experienced lower sales due to sluggish or even no growth in several major global markets.
Currency exchange issues also figured into the decline in many companies' sales figures as translated into U.S. dollars. As a result the estimated value of the global tire market dropped about 5.6 percent to $151 billion.
The value of several of the world's major currencies shifted compared to the dollar by up to 20 percent in 2016 from 2015, the second straight year of measurable swings. Even the Chinese remnibi exchange value shifted measurably for the first time, exaggerating the declines experienced by the Chinese contingent.
The U.S. dollar-denominated sales figures in the ranking are based on average annual currency exchange figures, in order to avoid unusually high or low exchange rates at year-end.
Tire makers are ranked based on their revenue from the sale of tires they've manufactured, excluding items such as third-party sales of steel cord, synthetic rubber or carbon black, as well as estimates for non-tire items such as auto-service-related revenue at company-owned retail stores.
Bridgestone, Michelin, Goodyear and Continental A.G., for example, report hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in revenue from their respective captive retail networks. In addition, Bridgestone, Michelin and Goodyear derive a measurable amount of revenue from the sale of synthetic rubber or other raw or semi-processed materials to third parties.
Bridgestone's position at the top is solidified by minority ownership stakes it holds in two other Top 75 companies—a 43.6 percent stake in Turkey's BRISA/Bridgestone-Sabanci Tire Mfg. (No. 37 with 2016 sales of $561.5 million) and a 14.6 percent stake in Finland's Nokian Tyres P.L.C. (No. 19 with $1.38 billion in tire manufacturing-related sales).