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Sunday, 7 April, 2002, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Firestone lands GM tyre contract
General Motors graphic
The deal with GM could bolster Firestone's image
Bridgestone/Firestone has reportedly landed a contract to supply 2.5 million tyres a year to the world's biggest car maker, General Motors (GM) of the US.

Firestone F1 car
The recall left Firestone's image in tatters
Bridgestone/Firestone was expected to begin delivering tyres to the 500,000 GM cars later this month, according to the Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai.

The US subsidiary of the Japanese tyre maker Bridgestone hoped that the deal would help restore its image which had been badly dented by two recalls totalling 10 million tyres during the last two years.

The multi-million dollar recalls followed a string of fatal accidents involving Ford Explorer cars fitted with Firestone tyres.

Deaths

Explorer rollover accidents blamed on Firestone tyre tread separations have been linked to 271 deaths and 800 injuries.

Both companies have faced hundreds of personal-injury lawsuits in courts in the US and other countries.

The two companies have suffered huge financial losses as a consequence and the chief executives of both Firestone and Ford have been replaced.

Dispute

Ford has insisted the fault lied with the tyres while Bridgestone/Firestone has said the car was to blame.

In February, the US authorities dropped an investigation requested by Firestone into the Ford Explorer.

"The data does not support Firestone's contention that Explorers stand out from other SUVs with respect to its handling characteristics following a tread separation," said The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator Jeffrey Runge after having reviewed safety data.

The dispute brought to an end a 95-year relationship between the car maker and the tyre maker.

However, talks between the two have been resumed in recent months.

Observers said the GM deal could help restore confidence in the Firestone tyres.

See also:

12 Feb 02 | Business
US drops Explorer tyre probe
04 Dec 01 | Business
Firestone in plea to Japanese parent
08 Nov 01 | Business
Bridgestone settles tyre case
18 Oct 01 | Business
GM warns of tough times ahead
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