A WSJ.COM News Roundup
TOKYO -- Sales of Firestone replacement tires for cars and light trucks
slid about 40% in the U.S. in September and October compared with a
year earlier, the president of Bridgestone Corp. said Friday.
The sales decline followed a massive recall of
Firestone tires begun in August by its U.S.
subsidiary, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., because
of crashes in which its tires are under
Bridgestone President Yoichiro Kaizaki said the
company hasn't finished assessing the damage
to earnings but said the tire maker had raised
its estimate of the cost of the recall by nearly
29%. Bridgestone has sent its executive in charge of accounting to the
U.S. to sum up the related costs, he said.
"Roughly speaking, we now expect recall costs to reach about $450
million, compared with our earlier estimate of $350 million," Mr. Kaizaki
Overall, Bridgestone's sales of tires for passenger cars and light trucks
posted a single-digit percentage drop, he said. But Mr. Kaizaki offered
no specific sales figures. He said the overall figure dropped less than the
decline at Firestone because of increased sales of Bridgestone-brand
and other non-Firestone brand tires.
Mr. Kaizaki also said that the U.S. tire maker's exports to the Middle
East were falling mainly due to Saudi Arabia's prohibition of the tire
The U.S. subsidiary, based in Nashville, recalled 6.5 million ATX, ATXII
and Wilderness AT tires in August because of problems with tread
separation cited in crashes, mostly on Ford Explorers.
U.S. regulators say Firestone tires are under investigation in at least
119 deaths in the U.S. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration issued a consumer advisory on an additional 1.4 million
tires, and Bridgestone/Firestone also agreed to replace those tires at no
cost for customers who ask.
Bridgestone/Firestone has replaced five million tires in the U.S., about
77% of those subject to the recall, Mr. Kaizaki said Friday.
Bridgestone said it has found that the tire separations, which led to
accidents, occur more when tire pressure is low, tire temperature is high
and the vehicle is moving at a high speed. The problem tires appeared
to have been manufactured mostly at Firestone's Decatur, Ill., plant in
The company's investigation is still under way, said Tadakazu Harada,
executive vice president.