Cooper, Michelin suspend some North American tyre production on coronavirus

Author: Tracy Dang

2020/03/23

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Cooper Tires and Michelin are the latest tyre makers to suspend North America operations because of impacts from the coronavirus.

Cooper said it will temporarily shut down US and Mexico plants, beginning Monday, on a rolling schedule over the coming week and lasting for two-to-three weeks.

The company is assessing plans for European operations. Its China plants reopened several weeks ago and continue to ramp up production.

“Cooper is closely monitoring supply chain and product inventory levels as the company focuses on continuing to serve customers,” it said. “Cooper believes it currently has sufficient supply of product and will continue to operate distribution centres until further notice to meet customer needs.”

Michelin said on Friday that it would begin a temporary, phased shutdown of some of its US and Canada plants, lasting for at least two weeks.

The company did not elaborate on which sites but said the suspension “excludes vital and critical tyres for the country’s economic continuity”.

“Distribution and logistics activities will continue to support customers through existing inventories,” Michelin said. “The company is monitoring conditions closely and has established appropriate contingency plans, prepared to adjust as the situation evolves.”

The France-based tyre maker announced last week that it would close much of its production in Europe.

Previously, Goodyear said it would conduct a phased shutdown across its tyre, retread and chemical plants in Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and the US, lasting until at least 3 April.

Bridgestone said it would implement a phased shutdown of its manufacturing facilities in North and South America, with plans to resume operations on or before 12 April.

Meanwhile, several automakers, including the US Big Three and Honda, are closing plants in North America for one-to-two weeks and longer to deep clean workplaces and develop systems to prevent close contact for assembly workers.

The sharp drop-off in demand for styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) and other engineering plastics have temporarily eased concerns regarding butadiene (BD) accessibility throughout the US supply chain.

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