Michelin's Wilkerson expects 'tough year'

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Michelin North America Inc. Chairman and President Dick Wilkerson says 2009 will be "a tough year. We're preparing ourselves for that. I think overall, because of the economy, we'll see difficulty in just about every segment."


The biggest impact on the tire industry will be fewer miles driven, he says.


"For the first time in 27 years, there was a negative number on percent increases in miles driven in the United States... that translates into a lot of tires. And that doesn't include the drop in original equipment demand driven by customers abandoning their SUVs and pickup trucks."


In addition, consumers are delaying tire purchases "and are looking for value, which helps us."


Wilkerson doesn't expect to see any market share loss in 2009. "In the past, Michelin, as a brand, has grown its market share in down times. People whose income levels are sustained can make a choice of value over price.


"We have picked up market share overall this year, including the Michelin brand."

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