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Shift of emphasis.

It wasn't that long ago when Bridgestone, Michelin and Goodyear were jockeying to be perceived as the best tire company in the world by manufacturing the most tires in a 12-month time frame; a strange criteria that if applied elsewhere would mean that McDonald's makes the best hamburger in the world.

But that didn't stop these three from semantically suggesting that the "biggest," "the number one tire maker," or whatever advertising tag chosen by the marketing department somehow equated to quality and therefore the best. Some of these companies acquired other manufacturing facilities, not because they were a strategic fit, but because they added to the total number of tires produced.

We do not hear as much boasting about production or capacity figures anymore. We have returned to highlighting tire properties and characteristics, and moved away from treating tires as commodities. I would like to think it may be because the marketing departments believe it's better to tout quality over production figures, but could it be that when it comes to shear numbers of tires produced, these three tire manufacturers are not in the same discussion as LEGO. Yes, LEGO. The Swedish plastic brick toy manufacturer is laying claim to being the world's largest tire manufacturer.

LEGO produces over 381 million tires per year. In 2011, Bridgestone produced over 190 million tires, Michelin 184 million and Goodyear 181 million. World tire production last year totaled 1.6 billion. LEGO's production was not included. The largest tire produced by the company has a diameter of 10.7 centimeters, while the smallest is 14.4 millimeters. LEGO began offering tires 50 years ago and makes all of its tires. The first tires were offered in 1962 in set #400. It was a marked improvement over the wheels made out of the interlocking plastic bricks with a rolling resistance off the charts. By 1967, 820,400 units of that set sold.

That may have been the first time an actual tire attribute was noted by the company. There is not much boasting done by LEGO concerning handling, traction, tread wear or braking distance. Maybe the company figures its production numbers speak for themselves. Freed of any type of regulation, LEGO enjoys advantages over the better known tire manufacturers. The biggest advantage is the fact it manufactures the cars and wheels on which its tires are fitted.
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Author:Smith, Don R.
Publication:Rubber World
Date:Apr 1, 2012
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