Michelin's U.S. Unit and Ford Reach Accord on Replacing Tires
By a W
JOURNAL Staff Reporter
DETROIT -- Michelin North America Inc., the U.S. unit of France's Groupe Michelin, said it forged an agreement with Ford Motor Co. to supply tires for a massive tire-replacement program aimed at getting Wilderness AT tires off certain Ford vehicles.
On May 22, Detroit-based Ford said it would replace about 13 million Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. tires, most of which were sold as original equipment on Ford Explorers, because of concerns that they were prone to tread separations that could lead to deadly accidents. Firestone, the U.S. subsidiary of Japan's Bridgestone Corp., denies the tires pose a danger.
Michelin is the third major tire manufacturer in the past week to announce such a deal. On Friday, Germany's Continental AG said it has raised production at its six plants in North America to provide tires for the replacement program. Just two days earlier, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Akron, Ohio, said it had "significantly" boosted production of tires needed for replacements. As part of their agreements with Ford, all three tire makers are offering to replace tires free of charge through their own dealer networks.
Michelin said it has more than tripled production of the affected tire sizes in North America and is in the process of shipping "tens of thousands of tires" from Europe to aid with the effort. Michelin also said it set up a separate customer-service center to assist tire dealers with orders. After its first week, the service center was averaging 8,000 calls a day.