AKRON, Ohio–With the wide array of emerging technologies, it can be difficult to decide which platforms and technologies to pursue, says Chris Helsel, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s senior vice president and chief technology officer at the company. Helsel says Goodyear internally refers to the trends driving today’s auto industry as FACE, for fleets, autonomous, connected and electric.
Speaking with Crain’s Cleveland Business, Helsel said: “Today, as a global population, we drive about 10 trillion miles,” he said. “Some analysts project that number is going to double by 2030, accelerated by trends toward (electric vehicles), (autonomous vehicles), car-sharing and more. Considering that, we are looking at some great potential opportunities for more tires. In electric vehicle forecasting alone, there are expected to be 57 million tires on such vehicles by 2020.”
Breaking down the letters of FACE, Helsel shared these insights:
- Fleets: “We see variations around two basic consumer fleet models: car-sharing and ride-sharing, the difference being who owns the vehicle, an individual or a company. In either case, it’s about minimizing cost of ownership while maximizing uptime to keep that vehicle on the road and making money. … From the perspective of a tire company, there are two jobs to be done: lowering maintenance costs and providing predictive maintenance for those fleets.”
- Autonomous vehicles (AV): “When you take away the driver, you take away the feel of the road that would have come through your hands on the wheel and your feet on the pedals. In an AV, that job is best done at the point of contact with the road: the tires.”
- Connected vehicles: “Instead of a light on the dashboard with a symbol that people largely don’t recognize, imagine you get a message to your virtual assistant that alerts you of the issue, the likely cause and how to resolve it, or proposes a one-click solution, which could be the closest available service station or even a mobile service that comes to you.”
- Electric vehicles (EV): “Of course, the focus of EVs is on transitioning away from fossil fuels. But the batteries and drivetrains of electric vehicles are also much different. In some cases, the vehicles are up to 30% heavier and create more torque, which results in higher stress and wear on tires.”