Dunlop Tyres

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Dunlop Tyres was an international United Kingdom-based company founded in 1888 by John Boyd Dunlop after he invented the modern pneumatic inflatable tyre. Its first factory opened in Dublin in 1889.

The current company dates to 1990 when Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company bought the European tyre business, but not Dunlop Aircraft Tyres, which is an independently owned company.

The company once had extensive manufacturing operations in the UK. With the closure of the Washington plant in 2006, Goodyear Dunlop ceased mainstream car and lorry tyre production in the UK.

There is still a bespoke Motorsport manufacturing operation located on a corner of the original Fort Dunlop site in Erdington, Birmingham, opened in 1891. This factory supports specialised vintage, motorcycle and touring car tyre production, and produces around 300,000 specialised racing tyres per year which are then shipped all over the globe.

The main Birmingham site has been extensively redeveloped with a modern shopping centre (The Fort Shopping Centre), car dealerships and several logistics warehouses. The iconic former head office building is being redeveloped into a combined residential, office and hotel complex. This can be observed between junction 5 and 6 of the M6, on the east side of the motorway.

Goodyear Dunlop still occupy a compact part of the site with their British head office. In the UK, the company operates as a sales organisation importing tyres from manufacturing plants around the world, including China, Slovenia and Poland.

The company is in an extremely competitive sales environment and has had to continually readjust to this pressure. Apart from the main Goodyear and Dunlop brands, tyres are also sold under the Fulda, Sava and Arrowspeed brand names.

The Goodyear Dunlop joint venture is managed from sites in Luxembourg and Brussels, which in turn reports to Goodyear in Akron, Ohio. The partner in the joint venture is the Japanese company Sumitomo Rubber Industries, which entered into an agreement in 1997 to market tyres for each other in North America and Asia.

Dunlop Tyres is the sole tyre supplier to British Touring Car Championship for 2003 to 2006 and the V8 Supercars Championship from 2002 to date. Dunlop also supplies tyres to the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters.

During the 1970s, Dunlop pioneered the world's first 'fail safe' tyres, permitting a vehicle to continue moving safely even following a blowout.

Dunlop once had an extensive portfolio of other manufacturing operations that have now been sold off to various third parties (or closed). Separately owned companies continue to make specialised products such as aerospace tyres and brakes under this name.

Dunlop first started producing sports products in the 1930's and to this day are regarded as one of the leading sports brands. The Dunlop brand seen on sports equipment and clothing is owned by Sportsdirect.

note: Robert William Thomson (1822 - 1873)a fellow Scot, invented the actual first vulcanised rubber pneumatic tyre. Thomson patented his pneumatic tyre in 1845, his invention worked well but was too costly to catch on. Dunlop initially succeeded in patenting his invention, but his patent was later declared invalid on the basis of Thomson's prior art, see Tires.

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