Bridgestone Corp. is forced to reduce its consumption of rubber by 50% over the next decade because of a steep increase in its price. In a November report, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicted that global usage of natural rubber will exceed supply by 313,000 tons this year -- the most since 2006.
For next year, it forecast a price of $4.40 per kilogram -- more than four times the $1 per kilogram price in December 2008. The reason why the demand is exceeding the supply is because farmers have switched crops and rubber trees age.
Masayuki Ishii, general manager at the corporate communications division, said that Bridgestone is working on technology that will halve the use of natural and synthetic rubber in each Bridgestone tire without compromising product quality. Ishii said that it would be “quite reasonable” to lessen the amount of raw materials used since they’re becoming expensive. Company President Shoshi Arakawa said that the firm already has the technology to achieve that.
He also said that the company seeks to reduce the rubber required by 50% in less than 10 years. The Japan Automobile Tyre Manufacturers Association said that natural rubber made up 28.9% of tire weight in Japan last year, while its synthetic rival made up 21.4%.
Public relations manager Kaoru Tomizawa said that Bridgestone uses more natural rubber than the industry average because it builds more heavy-vehicle tires. [via autonews - sub. required]