Sunday, April 30, 2006

Really Big Tires

The New York Times says the price of giant tires for super huge dump trucks and other big trucks has quadrupled. A twelve foot tall, four foot wide tire now costs $40,000. Apparently demand is high on account of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, rebuilding in hurricane-affected areas, and most of all, industrialization in India and China.

A factory can make only about two or three tires a day, and it takes 24 hours for a giant tire to cool after going into a mold.

The Times notes that the tire shortage is both cause and effect in the rise of nickel (used in stainless teel production, up 37%), copper (up 45%), and zinc (up 64%) prices. So mining companies try to boost output to make money off the soaring values and that means they need more tires.

A Canadian coal company has warned that the lack of tires may slow their production.

Some mining companies have expressed a willingness to pay anything for new tires, but the tire companies realize that would make other customers mad.

This shortage has spawned efforts to extend the life of existing tires, like the geo-textile plastic road covering that is supposed to make for a smoother ride.

The image above is from Skippers Central Tire & Equipment out of Phoenix. They sell big tires.


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