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ERJ Tracker: Global pandemic response

April 20th, 2020 | by European Rubber Journal
ERJ Tracker: Global pandemic response

Latest news on the how the global Covid-19 pandemic is impacting manufacturing and supply-chain activities as well as scheduled exhibitions, conferences and meetings throughout the tire & rubber industries worldwide:

Monday 20 April

Bridgestone to idle production plants in Japan

Bridgestone Corp. has announced a temporary ‘phased shutdown’ of some of its production plants across Japan, due to what it described as “market situation and decline in demand.” In a separate statement, Japanese group’s European subsidiary Bridgestone EMIA said it is resuming tire production at its manufacturing bases across Europe. Read more

Giti extends US plant closure

Giti Tire (USA) has announced that it will keep its tire production plant in Richburg, South Carolina, idled until 4 May to adjust for “unimproved market conditions” due to the impact of Covid-19.

Volvo resuming production in Sweden, Belgium

Volvo will restart its vehicle assembly lines in Torslanda, near Gothenburg, Sweden, and Ghent, Belgium, on Monday, ending a car production shutdown that started in March to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the automaker said 17 April.  Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson told ERJ sister publication Automotive News Europe that his company wanted to signal that ‘shutting everything down until a vaccine for the virus is found is irresponsible’ as it “would result in a disastrous downward spiral into a recession.”

Friday 17 April

Goodyear eyes ‘phased restart’ of some commercial tire production

Goodyear announced 16 April that was planning a “phased restart” of production at some of its commercial truck tire plants in the US and Europe, as early as this month. Read more

EU car demand more than halved in March

Demand fell by more 55% to 567,308 units in March, compared to 1,264,569 units registered the year before, ACEA said 17 April. Read more

Smiley Monroe extends halts

Conveyor belt producer Smiley Monroe is extending the temporary closure of all its sites in Northern Ireland for another two weeks until 4 May, in response to the spread of Covid-19. Read more

Hankook restarts Hungary tire plant?

Hankook has reportedly restarted its tire production plant in Rácalmás, south of Budapest. The South Korean tire maker told Hungary Today on 14 April that manufacturing had resumed at the facility to ‘ensure continued supply to partners.’

Thursday 16 April

Covid having ‘drastic’ impact on European tire markets

In its latest quarterly analysis issued 16 April, ETRMA said member companies’ sales across all categories “dropped drastically” as Covid forced strict lockdown measures across Europe. Read more

UK government urged to support  chemical sector 

The UK Chemical Industries Association (CIA) and the trade unions working in the UK chemical sector have urged the government to ensure that the industry continues to work and that the raw material supplies and logistics “remain intact”.   “The government needs to ensure that the workers employed in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors can get to work where they are needed for essential operations,” CIA said in a 15 April statement.

Yokohama US plants to remain closed ‘until further notice’

Yokohama North America is extending the closures of its tire plants in Mississippi and Virginia “until further notice” due to the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the company announced 13 April. 

VW details production restart plans

Volkswagen Group has said that its factories producing cars for its VW brand in Zwickau, Germany, and Bratislava, Slovakia, will resume production on 20 April.

Other factories in Germany as well as plants in Portugal, Spain, Russia and the U.S. will resume production starting 27 April , VW announced 15 April.

Wednesday 15 April

Conti resumes some manufacturing operations in Romania

Continental Corp. has restarted some of its production operations in Romania following temporary closures put in place to curb the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more

Pirelli delays Romania reopening

Pirelli has delayed the reopening of its tire production facility in Slatina due to “new, more restrictive government measures” introduced in the fight against Covid-19, the company has announced. Read more

Trelleborg withdraws dividend proposal

Trelleborg AB’s board of directors has decided to withdraw the group’s previous dividend proposal and instead propose that the annual general meeting resolves that no dividend will be paid. Read more

Ford expects $600m first quarter loss

Ford Motor expects to post a pretax loss of about $600 million for the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic pummeled its operations, the company announced 13 April. The car maker said it witnessed a 21% drop in vehicle sales to dealers versus the same quarter in 2019.

Tuesday 14 April

Bridgestone ramping up some EMIA operations

Bridgestone Europe, Russia, Middle East, India and Africa (EMIA) has announced that several plants across its manufacturing network will slowly ramp up production in response to business and customer needs. Read more

Goodyear CEO: Plants ‘could reopen in May’

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has signalled a possible ‘return to business’ in May, as it expects OE vehicle manufacturers to restart operations across the US. Read more

Michelin producing masks at 10 European plants

Michelin has mobilised 10 of its European production plants to manufacture masks and visors to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, the French group announced 9 April. Read more 

Cooper Tire restarts Mexico plant

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. has announced plans to restart operations at its tire plant in El Salto, Mexico, beginning 13 April. Read more

Sumitomo Rubber to idle New York tire plant

Sumitomo Rubber North America Inc. is planning to idle production at its Tonawanda tire plant for approximately two weeks as of 20 April, according to a letter to factory employees posted by labour union United Steelworkers Local 135. Read more

BMW extends European shutdowns

BMW extended its factory shutdowns in Europe until 30 April, German press reports said. The closures include Mini and Rolls-Royce operations in the UK.

Contract manufacturer Nedcar in the Netherlands, which builds some Mini and BMW models, has also paused production.

Daimler sets April targets for production resumption

Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz plans to resume output at engine plants in Germany on 20 April to build up stock for car production. Heavy truck and bus production is also scheduled to resume on that date.

A Mercedes spokeswoman told ERJ sister publication Automotive News Europe that Sindelfingen, where the E Class and S Class sedans are built, and Bremen, home to the C Class, GLC and EQC electric crossover, might need until 27 April before resuming output.

The automaker’s plant in Hambach, France, is scheduled to resume output on 20 April, while the Mercedes factory in Hungary is due to reopen on 22 April. Production of the Mercedes GLC at contract manufacturer Valmet in Finland has been suspended until 5 May.

Ferrari remains shut until 3 May

Ferrari extended the suspension of manufacturing activities at its plants in Maranello and Modena, Italy, until 3 May after the Italian government extended a nationwide lockdown to that date to contain the coronavirus.

Fiat looks to open Italian plant

Fiat could restart assembly lines for the Jeep Compass and new hybrid models in Melfi, Italy, on 14 April, a representative of the UILM metal workers’ union told ERJ sister publication Automotive News Europe.

The automaker’s Atessa plant making light commercial vehicles could also resume output on the same date and preparatory operations could restart for the new electric 500 in Turin’s Mirafiori factory, provided the government’s lockdown is relaxed, Ficco said.

Production at the automaker’s plant in Tychy, Poland, was paused until 10 April. Fiat’s factory in Kragujevac, Serbia, which produces the 500L, is closed. Fiat’s Tofas joint-venture plant with Koc Holding in Turkey is running as usual.

Thursday 9 April

Nokian to extend US shutdown

Nokian Tyres said 8 Apr that it will extend the temporary closure of its US factory through at least 26 April. The company will continue to evaluate the Covid-19 situation and monitor guidelines from health & safety and local authorities to determine when to reopen the factory.

Michelin project targets 5m face-masks

Michelin is part of an initiative in France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region to supply a new face-mask in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, the tire maker announced 8 April.  Read more

Bridgestone to reopen N American operations

Bridgestone Americas Inc. plans to restart its North American commercial tire plants as well as its North American Firestone Industrial Products and Firestone Building Products manufacturing facilities on 13 April.   Read more

Conti medical hose for Bergamo customer

Continental has manufactured medical-gas-supply hose at its site in Daverio, Italy. The PVC-based product has a polyester-reinforced thermoplastic polyurethane conductive underlayer. The hose was made for Bergamo-based customer Flow-meter, a specialist for devices for measurement, control and supply of fluids. “Going forward, we will have a strong focus on manufacturing medical hoses for the European healthcare sector…,” said Marco Tamborini, Conti’s manager for Italy-based production of plastics hoses – since its 2019 acquisition of Merlett.  Image: ©Continental AG.

Wednesday 8 April

EU rubber groups form Covid crisis unit

Rubber industry associations in a number of EU states have set up a Covid-19 ‘crisis unit’ under the aegis of the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers’ Association (ETRMA). Read more

Datwyler adjusts to automotive decline

Datwyler has reported a “high workload” across most of its operations, but “capacity adjustments” at its automotive product plants in response to the Covid pandemic. Read more

Article courtesy of: European Rubber Journal.

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