Goodyear Tyre & Rubber Co., the largest tyre maker in North America, said it would eliminate 500 jobs, after naming Richard Kramer to oversee the company’s plan to reduce costs by $US1.5 billion, Bloomberg News reported.

Kramer, 39, becomes senior vice president for strategic planning and restructuring, a new position for Goodyear, the report said.

The job cuts will be salaried and non-union positions at its 20 US and Canadian tyre plants, with specifics at each factory still to be decided, the company said on Thursday, according to Bloomberg News, which noted that Goodyear is trimming expenses after losses totalling $1.31 billion in the past two years and declining sales in the United States, its biggest market.

The Bloomberg report said the latest job cuts, to be completed next month with savings of about $40 million annually, follow 700 salaried positions eliminated earlier in the year – the company has about 92,000 employees worldwide.

Kramer “has been working on the turnaround plan from the beginning” and will coordinate with chief executive Robert Keegan and Jonathan Rich, head of the North American tyre unit, company spokesman Keith Price told Bloomberg News, which noted that the company hasn’t said how many jobs might be eliminated under a tentative three-year contract agreement reached with the United Steelworkers of America last week.

Bloomberg News noted that a union official said last week that a Huntsville, Alabama, tyre factory with about 1,100 union workers will close.

The report noted that Goodyear in April said it planned to cut costs by as much as $1.5 billion by the end of 2005 but at that time didn’t disclose details about its job- reduction plans or say how it will adjust tyre-manufacturing capacity, citing negotiations with the union.