South Pacific Tyres to close Somerton Factory
There is only one factory producing tyres set to continue for the time being anyway, in Australia. South Pacific Tyres, which is wholly owned by Goodyear, announced that the Somerton factory, on the northern outskirts of Melbourne, is to close by the end of the year. The truck tyre factory on the same site closed some years ago. All Goodyear and Dunlop tyres will be imported in future, to complement the raft of tyres already imported. That leaves Bridgestone in Adelaide as the last remaining tyre manufacturer.
The Somerton plant was originally opened by B.F. Goodrich of the U.S.A. in the sixties, but couldn’t make a profit, because the bias tyres they made were going out of use. Ownership passed to Olympic Tyres, which re-equipped the factory to make steel belted radial passenger and light truck tyres. Olympic was swallowed by Dunlop in 1979, and Dunlop formed a partnership with Goodyear 8 years later. Goodyear finally bought out their partners earlier this decade.
Closure follows a long line of departing manufacturers, starting with Hardie, Goodrich, Firestone, Olympic Dunlop, and now Goodyear.
From the sixties, Australia had its own production facilities for materials to make tyres, mostly located in Victoria. British Nylon Spinners at Bayswater, Australian Carbon Black (Cabot) at Altona, and Columbian Carbon in Sydney, Australian Synthetic Rubber at Altona, and most recently, Australian Wire Industries (Baekhert of Belgium) at Geelong have all closed in the past decade or so, leaving the tyre manufacturers to source materials from overseas. Since nearly all (except steel) are sourced from oil, the dramatic increase in costs of materials has obviously affected cost of production. Material cost is a substantial part of the manufactured cost of a tyre.