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NACS is collaborating with Exxon and BP to kick off Tire Safety Awareness Month

Monday, December 22, 2014

Washington, DC - The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP have signed on to support the Obama administration's new tire safety initiative. Collaborating with tire manufactures, fuel distributors and tire retailers, the U.S. Department of Transportation kicked off a Tire Safety Awareness Month from Dec. 9, 2014, to Jan. 9, 2015. NACS will communicate the Tire Safety Month to its 40,000 subscribers of its daily news feed, as well as on its website. It will encourage fuel retailers to consider point-of-sale (POS) signage, whether at the pump or inside the store, to communicate the initiative. Convenience stores sell an estimated 80% of the fuel purchased in the country. Both NACS and its members will also conduct outreach to the media to further enhance the visibility of the initiative. This effort will include working to identify flagship locations to help encourage other gas stations and convenience stores to, over the coming months, find additional opportunities to educate consumers about the importance of tire maintenance, for example, through using pumptoppers, hosetags or other visible media. ExxonMobil will increase the visibility of a 30-second TV commercial, called "Tires," in national network and cable rotation. The spot communicates the fact that "if every driver in the U.S. kept their tires properly inflated, the U.S. would save up to 4 billion gallons of fuel." In addition to TV, ExxonMobil will promote the tire inflation message via social media channels, like Twitter and LinkedIn, to quickly and simply convey the tie between tire inflation and fuel efficiency. BP, in conjunction with Tire Safety Month, will work to promote safety, savings to consumers and increased energy efficiency. Over the coming months, BP will expand messaging through its retailer website and through its periodic newsletter sent to a database of some 1.8 million consumer-members of the "Driver Rewards" program. To minimize the number of tire-related crashes, reduce carbon pollution and save drivers on fuel costs, the Transportation Department is also announcing it will set a goal to finalize a rule establishing a tire fuel efficiency consumer information program by 2017 so consumers can identify the most energy efficient tires; partnering with NASCAR on a Drive for Safety initiative in next year's racing season; and releasing guide on how to Be TireWise: Save Money at The Pump, Increase Efficiency & Protect Your Safety. - * Email

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RheinChemie

Indian tire makers agree to help Kerala rubber farmers

Monday, December 22, 2014

Kochi, India - The Business Standard reports, "The Kerala government has, in return for some waiver on payment, got 12 leading tyre companies to agree to buy natural rubber (NR) from the local market till the end of this financial year (March 31), although this is 25% costlier than the global (Bangkok) price. A little over 90% of India's NR comes from Kerala, with 1.1 million cultivators in the state. Growers have been unable to match prices abroad for a long while and the result has been a surge in import and a slump in both demand and prices at home. As a result, many small and medium cultivators are contemplating quitting the business. By the agreement worked out on Thursday, with the final meeting in the presence of the chief minister, the 12 companies will buy from local dealers, at the higher price ­­ the Rubber Board of India will fix the daily rates, based on the one at Bangkok. There is a 20% customs duty for any import and a five% purchase tax; the government will refund half the purchase tax to the companies. The other half will also be refunded as a claim on the value added tax collected from the buyers. The scheme will apply only to the RSS­4 grade. Which means the companies have agreed to pass on the equivalent customs duty benefit to the growers, till end­March. For example, Friday's Bangkok price tag was Rs 105/kg and growers will get Rs 131.25/kg, although the market price is Rs 115/kg. It was Rs 245 a kg in 2009. Addressing the meeting, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the state's economy had been hit with NR prices so low. "Rubber is one single plantation crop that has over the years helped to build the rural economy of Kerala. Today, the situation is such that the price has fallen below the cost of production, forcing many farmers to either stop tapping trees or to fell these," he said. Finance Minister K M Mani said when rubber prices were high in 2009, the Kerala government had helped tyre manufacturers by taking up the case with the central government and got the import duty reduced from 20% to 7.5%."Now, it's your turn to help us. Today, you are importing more than 300,000 tonnes of NR. When we are facing trouble, you should help us," he said. Raghupati Singhania, chariman and managing director of JK Tyre, who led the manufacturers' delegation, said: "We do have to import rubber for making high quality truck tyres. Also, the consumption of rubber is more than the domestic production. However, we have agreed to help the farmers here." "Since rubber has a 20% import duty, the tyre manufacturers would give that to our farmers and the state government will also chip in to the extent of five%. So, the prices would go up by 25%, starting tomorrow," said Chandy - * Email

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McLube

South Carolina governor wants commerce department to rethink tariff targeting Giti Tire

Monday, December 22, 2014

Columbia, SC - The State reports, "New tariffs placed by the U.S. Department of Commerce on tires manufactured in China – including those made by Giti Tire – have raised concerns in South Carolina. Gov. Nikki Haley wants commerce department officials to reconsider the 17.69 percent tariff targeted for Giti, which plans to build a plant in Chester County. Haley, in a Tuesday letter, said the tariff “inequitably affects Giti’s business.” Chester County’s economic development director, Karlisa Parker, said officials there have discussed the pending tariff. But, she said, the company has indicated the tariff would not threaten plans to build a $560 million plant off S.C. 9 near I-77. The plant is expected to employ 1,700 workers. The U.S. Department of Commerce imposed the tariffs to offset subsidies the Chinese government gives to tire manufacturers in that country. The United Steelworkers union and others believe the Chinese subsidies lower the prices of Chinese-made tires sold in the United States, which threatens the jobs of U.S. tire workers. Giti’s tariffs are 2 percentage points higher than all but two other Chinese tire manufacturers. The tariff is in addition to an existing 4 percent duty. The tariffs were imposed on Dec. 1, but a decision on the final rates is expected in April. While Giti’s headquarters are in Singapore, the company has seven plants in China. In her Tuesday letter, Haley asked the commerce department to revise Giti’s rate quickly. The letter doesn’t specify what the rate should be. “I urge Commerce to quickly resolve this issue before it inequitably affects Giti’s business as they build their new facility in our state.” A final tariff decision is scheduled to be made by April 16. Chaney Adams, Haley’s press secretary, said Thursday, “Governor Haley has always said we have to take care of our businesses and workers, Giti is a company that will take care of a lot of our families, and so when she became aware of the tariff situation, it was important to her to contact the Obama administration directly.” Chinese tire exports to the U.S. have more than doubled in recent years, according to the commerce department. Domestic production during the same period has fallen 11 percent. The United Steelworkers union petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce for the tariffs, claiming cheap Chinese tires are costing U.S. workers jobs. The steelworkers union estimated U.S. producers would lose another 10 million tires because of Chinese imports in 2014 and that loss “would be enough to put any of a number of U.S. facilities and many (union) members’ jobs in jeopardy.” Giti has discussed the tariff rate with the Department of Commerce. Haley wrote that she was encouraged by what Giti officials told her of the latest meeting with commerce department officials. Giti officials said plans to build the Chester County plant show their commitment to manufacturing and distributing American-made tires. The plant, Giti officials have said, shows they do not intend to harm the U.S. tire industry. The tariff, or more formally a countervailing duty, is separate from an anti-dumping investigation by the Department of Commerce of claims that Chinese-made tires are being sold at below fair market prices in the United States. Some industry observers say the combination of countervailing duty and anti-dumping penalties could drastically increase the price of tires imported into the U.S. from China. The average price of a Chinese-made tire exported to the U.S. is about $36, according to the Department of Commerce. Giti officials have said they “compete fairly” with sales in more than 100 counties. Giti brands include GT Radial, Primewell, Dextero and Runway. Giti recently purchased an 1,100-acre site between between S.C. 9 and the Old Richburg Highway near I-77 for its Chester plant. The sales price was not disclosed. The company anticipates holding a groundbreaking ceremony in January with the plant tentatively scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2016. Giti expects to eventually make about 30,000 passenger and light-truck tires daily. - * Email

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Michelin is reported to be considering building a new warehouse in SC

Monday, December 22, 2014

Greenville, SC - Greenville News reports, "Oconee County is hoping to land its first Michelin jobs, but the deal for a distribution center isn’t done yet, county officials said. Michelin already has extensive operations in five other South Carolina counties: Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, Laurens and Lexington. Last month, it announced a 10th South Carolina plant in southern Greenville County to make its airless tire called the Tweel. Now Michelin may spend at least $175 million and hire at least 30 people for a tire warehouse in Oconee County near Fair Play, according to paperwork related to a property tax break the county is offering in exchange for the corporate investment. County officials said those figures are conservative and the real numbers could wind up being $250 million for capital expenditure and 180 for jobs, with most of the positions coming from a third-party staffing service. The proposed site is the Golden Corner Commerce Park along Highway 59, about two miles from Interstate 85. Oconee County Council was expected to cast a final vote on the incentives package Tuesday night. But county officials said they won’t know for sure whether Michelin is coming until early next year. “We have held up our end of the bargain,” said Joel Thrift, County Council chairman. “Hopefully, this will meet with the corporate objectives and future plans and we’ll be a part of that.” For its part, Michelin is staying mum. Asked about the warehouse, Stephanie Tarbet, a spokesperson for Greenville-based Michelin North America, said the company “continuously evaluates investment opportunities to support future growth.” The incentives deal would cut Michelin’s property tax assessment ratio from 10.5 percent to 6 percent for 40 years. Even then, the Oconee County government and school district would collect about $2 million a year in additional tax revenue as a result of the warehouse, said Scott Moulder, county administrator. And that’s much better than a tax hike, according to County Councilman Wayne McCall of West Union. “We’re not going to tax our citizens anymore,” he said. “We’ve just got to hold the line. You grow your county by growing business.” - * Email

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NHTSA asked to recall Hercules Radial A/T

Monday, December 22, 2014

Brownsville, TX - Michael Cowen of the Cowen Law Group has requested that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launch an investigation into a defective Chinese-made tire recalled by one U.S. distributor, but not another distributor of the same tire under a different brand name. Cowen represents Krystal Cantu, 25, who suffered a permanent and disabling injury in an August 2, 2013 crash caused by a catastrophic tread separation. Cantu was a front-seat, belted passenger in a 2004 Ford Explorer Sport Trac, when the left-rear tire – a Capitol Precision Trac II – failed as the vehicle traveled southbound on Interstate 37 in Atascosa County, Texas. The driver lost control when the vehicle skidded; Ms. Cantu's right arm was crushed in the subsequent rollover, resulting in an above-the-elbow amputation. Cantu's story was featured in a recent CBS news story on old and defective tires in advance of a two-day symposium hosted by the National Transportation Safety Board on tire safety. The August 2013 crash, in part, led to a decision by ITG Voma to recall Capitol Precision Trac II tires manufactured between December 2008 and May 2010 for tires lacking a nylon cap ply, which made the tires less robust and prone to tread separations. The October 20 recall covered 94,890 tires in seven sizes for passenger cars and light trucks. "Although it too late for Krystal Cantu, it's important that these defective tires are finally being recalled" said Michael Cowen. On April 2, 2014, Cantu filed a lawsuit against Voma and the manufacturer of the tire, the Shandong Yongsheng Rubber Co., Ltd., among other defendants. During the discovery phase of the case, a manufacturer's representative revealed that the Capitol Precision Trac II shared a common green tire designation with another tire branded as the Hercules Radial A/T in eight different sizes. NHTSA defines a common green tire as "tires that are produced to the same internal specifications but that have, or may have, different external characteristics and may be sold under different tire line names." This means that the Hercules A/T and Capitol tires are essentially the same. Under federal recall regulations, the company that brands the tire is considered the manufacturer, and is responsible for reporting defects to NHTSA and launching a recall. In December 17 letter, Cowen asked the agency to open a defect investigation called an Equipment Query to pursue the Hercules Rubber & Tire Company, a marketer of replacement tires, headquartered in Findlay, Ohio and a partner of the Cooper Rubber & Tire Company, to launch a recall. The agency faced a similar situation in 2007, when Foreign Tire Sales (FTS), a tire importer based Union, New Jersey launched a recall after discovering that tires manufactured by the Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd for FTS had been built without or with inadequate .6mm c-shaped gum strips used to prevent the separation of belts. The recall followed a legal claim alleging that a catastrophic tread separation of a Telluride 245175R16 tire manufactured by Hangzhou and sold by FTS caused a fatal rollover crash. FTS had claimed to NHTSA that Hangzhou sold similar tires via other importers. The agency's Recall Management Division responded by sending letters to 17 tire importers/distributors of Hangzhou tires. "Selling essentially the same tire and under a different brand that isn't covered under the recall needs to be thoroughly investigated by NHTSA. Our request and the information submitted to the agency should assist them in obtaining a complete accounting of all the tires that need to be taken off the roads" Cowen added. - * Email

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