Greenfield, South Carolina – Michelin North America has announced it will close a BFGoodrich tire manufacturing plant in Opelika, Alabama by October 2009, due to a drop in market demand.

Michelin said that in the wake of the economic crisis, consumers are driving less, purchasing fewer vehicles and delaying tire replacement purchases, creating a significant overcapacity that the company does not expect to rebound in the near term. North American tire sales volume is expected to decline for the second year in a row in 2009.

“Business decisions that directly impact the lives of our employees are extraordinarily difficult,” said Dick Wilkerson, chairman and president of Michelin North America. “This action is necessary, however, for the long-term health and competitiveness of Michelin North America. In this crisis, there is no more business as usual.”

The plant, which currently employs approximately 1,000 wage and salaried workers, produces BFGoodrich and Uniroyal passenger car tires. Michelin will consolidate production at its facilities in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Fort Wayne, Indiana. More than 85 per cent of the tires Michelin sells in North America are made in North America.

Connect with Autos.ca