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Tire prices increase due to COVID-19 as rubber costs double


June 21, 2021
By Matt Jones

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Photo: BKT Tires

Several tire manufacturers, including Bridgestone, Michelin and Goodyear, have increased tire prices in 2021, due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since April 2020, natural rubber prices have almost doubled and carbon black and steel prices have also increased.

Sam Lai, director of marketing and communications for CITEXPO (the China International Tire Expo), noted in a January blog post that rubber production had stalled due to travel restrictions keeping workers from Laos and Myanmar from travelling to Thai rubber plantations.

Lai says nearly all Chinese tire companies had announced price increases that went into effect at the start of the year. Bridgestone, Michelin and Goodyear all announced price increases of up to eight per cent to go into effect as of April 1. Bridgestone has since announced further eight-per-cent increase on Bridgestone and Firestone OTR and a 14-per-cent average increase in the price of Firestone Tracks to go into effect in June.

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“This price adjustment is a necessary step as Bridgestone continues to manage increased business costs, including escalating transportation and raw material costs that are forecast to continue into the second half of the year,” says Laura McCaslin, communications manager with Bridgestone Americas. “This increase is partially related to adjustments required by COVID-19 complexities, but also due to a significant increase in freight costs.”

Bridgestone increased prices on the company’s portfolio of commercial truck tires and Bandag retreading following price increases across the brand last year. In October, increases were announced for all Firestone truck and bus radial tires, followed by a December announcement of increases for Bridgestone and Firestone passenger and light truck replacement tires.

McCaslin says that Bridgestone is committed to minimizing the impact of increased business costs on their customers.

“We are closely monitoring changes in the market and evaluating the cost of doing business,” says McCaslin. “We will continue looking for new opportunities to engineer efficiency into our business
while also investing to protect the value of our brands to unlock new, sustainable growth opportunities with our customers.”

Michelin is increasing prices on select Michelin, BFGoodrich and Uniroyal passenger and light truck tires and Goodyear is increasing prices on Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly-brand consumer tires including light trucking tires.

Continental Tire has also announced price increases for select Continental and General brand passenger and light truck tires. The details of which specific products’ prices would increase and by how much will be announced in June.

More troubling is the likelihood that further prices will follow this year and in the coming years. Bloomberg reports that, in addition to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, rubber prices are expected to increase in the coming years due to the flooding and rubber tree leaf diseases.

“I suspect in 2021 the price of the tire will increase further while supply may tighten,” wrote Lai. “We all should follow the market more closely and keep in contact with your suppliers so you are prepared for 2021.”