Industry news

| December 12, 2008

“It’s not only raw materials, but everything else – shipping, the cost of doing business – is up dramatically,” Danielson says. “2006 will be tough from a supply viewpoint.”

Bridgestone increased truck tire prices 5 percent in 2004, then twice again this year: 7 percent in January and 8 percent in May. On Sept. 15, Bridgestone Firestone announced another round of increases for “passenger and light truck, truck and bus, and agricultural and off-the-road tires,” effective Nov. 1, but Bridgestone’s truck tire division later said its prices would be unaffected by that increase.

“Raw materials increase daily,” says Clif Armstrong, commercial marketing director for Continental Tire North America. “Raw materials are extremely volatile, and that affects everything we do.”

Continental increased truck tire prices at least twice in 2004, Armstrong says, and twice again in 2005. A third increase of up to 7 percent was passed to dealers as of Oct. 1, but how soon dealers raise their prices is uncertain because of varying inventories.

Michelin representatives declined to discuss tire pricing.
-JILL DUNN


HIGHWAY WATCH TANKER ALERT
Highway Watch is asking all members to report any suspicious activities involving hazmat tank trucks.

The request came after reports of vehicles moving erratically around fuel tankers and individuals photographing or videotaping the trucks:

  • A Highway Watch member in the Midwest reported that one of his company’s petroleum drivers saw a car pull alongside his placarded tanker. Someone in the car took pictures.
  • While unloading fuel at a gas station, a member in the Southeast was approached by a couple asking detailed questions about gas delivery operations.
  • A member in the Midwest reported a couple in a car taking pictures of his tanker.
  • A member in the Midwest saw two men in a van taking pictures of a terminal tank farm.
  • A car’s occupant was reported photographing a member’s tanker in the Midwest.
  • A man was seen taking pictures of a member’s fuel operation before getting into a car and following the member for a few miles while taking photos.

Preliminary analysis showed no pattern to the incidents, Highway Watch says. Those wishing to make a report should call Highway Watch at (866) 821-3444.
-LANCE ORR


FUEL GOUGING SUITS FILED
Florida, New Jersey and Tennessee filed price-gouging lawsuits over retail fuel prices, while 44 state attorneys general continued an investigation into price spikes after recent hurricanes.

Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether “forms of illegal behavior have provided a foundation for price manipulation,” says John Seesel, an FTC associate general counsel.

New Jersey filed four lawsuits against oil companies Hess, Motiva Shell and Sunoco and against independent gas-station owners selling Citgo, Hess, Shell and Sunoco gasoline, acting Gov. Richard Codey announced Sept. 26.

Pump prices spiked overnight as Hurricane Katrina made landfall, but afterward, when oil prices fell several dollars a barrel, gas prices decreased only slowly, says Kimberly Ricketts, state consumer affairs director. “There seems to be a speed aberration that even Einstein would have difficulty understanding,” she says.

Darci Sinclair, a spokeswoman for Royal Dutch Shell and its subsidiary, Motiva, says the company is reviewing the charges. “Shell and Motiva have a history of being sensitive to price changes during significant events,” Sinclair said.

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