Goodyear Defends Tires, Vies for Ford's Business
                    November 1, 2000

                    By TIMOTHY AEPPEL
                    Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

                    Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. said it aims to surpass
                    Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. as the largest tire supplier to Ford Motor Co.
                    in the wake of Firestone's massive recall.

                                         At the same time, Goodyear Chief Executive
                                         Samir G. Gibara sought to defend the Akron,
                                         Ohio, company's own embattled line of tires,
                                         following company disclosures last week of at
                                         least 15 deaths and about 120 injuries related
                    to failures of a type of Goodyear light-truck tire used mainly on
                    commercial vehicles, pickups and vans.

                    Bridgestone/Firestone, a unit of Japan's Bridgestone Corp., launched a
                    recall of 6.5 million tires in August, and U.S. government regulators are
                    investigating reports that link Firestone tires to at least 120 deaths,
                    most of them involving rollovers on Ford's popular Explorer sport-utility
                    vehicle. Another 40 or so deaths allegedly involving the tires have
                    occurred overseas. The recall and subsequent tensions between
                    Firestone and Ford have prompted other tire makers to press for more
                    of the No. 2 auto maker's business.

                    "We're getting a lot of business from
                    Ford, and there's more coming," said
                    Goodyear's Mr. Gibara. He said
                    Goodyear already has agreed to
                    provide Ford with an additional 1.8
                    million tires a year, including some of
                    the tires for the new Ford Explorer,
                    and is vying to supply another one
                    million tires annually to Ford.

                    Prior to the Firestone recall, Goodyear
                    sold about six million passenger and
                    light-truck tires to Ford each year, or
                    about 22% of the auto maker's total,
                    according to industry estimates.
                    Meanwhile, Firestone supplies "roughly
                    a third" of Ford's tires, a Ford
                    spokeswoman said. "We usually don't
                    comment on the size of our business with any particular supplier for
                    competitive reasons," she added. "It's really up to the supplier company
                    itself to make that kind of assessment."

                    "Obviously, Ford is a very important customer to us, and they continue
                    to be a significant customer," said a Firestone spokesman. "We continue
                    to supply a significant amount of tires to them, and obviously we'd like
                    the relationship to continue."

                    The timing and likelihood of Goodyear supplanting Firestone as Ford's
                    largest supplier are uncertain, since the process of approving new tires
                    for vehicles is complex and long. Moreover, Goodyear faces competition
                    from other tire makers, including Continental General Tire Inc. and
                    France's Groupe Michelin SA, that are trying to snare new business with

                    Goodyear believes it is in a stronger position than its competitors,
                    having a history of supplying Ford and having come to Ford's defense in
                    the wake of the Firestone debacle.

                    Ford emphatically noted that Explorers didn't have the same tire
                    problems when equipped with Goodyear tires, fueling the car maker's
                    argument that the rollover problems were tire-related and had nothing
                    to do with the Explorer. In addition, Goodyear's position as the largest
                    tire maker in North America gives it more flexibility and ability to meet
                    new demands for production and delivery, the company says.

                    Goodyear can easily shift from producing tires for the replacement
                    market to making tires for Ford.

                    Goodyear faces 20 lawsuits that have arisen as a result of its own tire
                    problems. The company said it began examining the tires now under
                    scrutiny about five years ago, after two damage claims were reported.

                    Mr. Gibara says the company learned that many of the vans and trucks
                    equipped with the tires had been modified, with more weight added,
                    which increases the stress on tires.

                    One accident involved a 1997 wreck in Saudi Arabia in which three U.S.
                    Air Force personnel were killed and three injured. The accident occurred
                    after the tread separated on their GMC Suburban. Goodyear notes that
                    the Suburban was beefed up with over 800 pounds of armor plating
                    and that the company had not built the tires anticipating that load.

                    -- Norihiko Shirouzu contributed to this article.

                    Write to Timothy Aeppel at