• U.S.

Business: Ford Tires

2 minute read

Prodded by irate U. S. tiremen, the State Department last week complained about the price of rubber to the British Government—a logical move since the British International Rubber Regulation Committee is quasi-official. Thanks to the committee’s restrictive policy, rubber was above 27¢ per lb., a tenfold increase over its Depression low (TIME, March 29).

And, as usual, the chief victim of this lucrative international racket was the U. S., which grows no rubber, uses more than one-half the world’s supply. Henry Ford, with his 2,500,000-acre concession in the heart of Brazil’s Amazon jungles, hopes eventually to free himself if not the U. S. from its vulnerable dependence on Far Eastern rubber.

Meantime, the Dearborn individualist last week decided to withdraw further into his vast fortress of independence. The Akron Beacon Journal revealed that Ford Motor Co. had ordered $1,000,000 worth of tire-making machinery for a new Ford tire plant at the River Rouge works outside Detroit. Moreover, said the Beacon Journal, that order was only “one of many.”

Ford officials neither confirmed nor denied the report, but volunteered the pointed observation that Mr. Ford always liked to match outside production with company-made equipment, if for no other reason than to keep a yardstick on costs. Years ago Henry Ford made some of his own tires, discontinuing production when the new River Rouge plant went into operation in 1923. Since then he has bought about half his tires from his good friend Harvey Firestone, the rest from Goodyear, Goodrich, U. S. Rubber. Henry Ford has made no secret of his alarm over Akron’s labor troubles and the possibility of being cut off from his tire source—an alarm which was certainly not stilled by his first encounter with the Sit-Down last week (see p. 20). When his own tire plant gets into production, presumably next autumn, he will be able to supply an estimated half of his total needs.

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