Sustainable mobility is the driving principle of Michelin Group’s global growth plan, and it’s not some far-off dream. The company says sustainability will play a key role in increasing both tire sales and services. Pete Selleck, chairman and president of Michelin North America Inc., says by 2020 Michelin wants revenue from tire sales to rise 20%.
Michelin took its sustainable vision to Montreal to host Movin’On, a two-and-a-half day conference that brought together leaders and innovators from all modes of transportation. From buses and bicycles to robots, Movin'On featured leaders and speakers from technology companies, automobile makers, and government officials. (The event previously was known as the Challenge Bibendum, taking its name from the Michelin Man mascot.) Michelin unveiled a concept tire at the 2017 event. The Vision tire is airless and made of recycled materials. It’s connected, rechargeable, and much like the Tweel, it’s a tire and wheel all-in-one. It’s created not on an assembly line, but with a 3-D printer.
During an interview with Selleck, Modern Tire Dealer asked why independent tire dealers should care about Movin’On, and innovations like the Vision concept tire which seem so far off.
Selleck acknowledged that as entrepreneurs, tire dealers have their heads down and are focused on the day-to-day operations of their businesses. He says it’s helpful to take a break and look up.
“Many of the things you’ll see here will be in the market 10 years from now,” Selleck said.
Michelin believes the Vision tire – of which there’s only one in the world, so even mounting on a vehicle is so far impossible – could be reality in 10-15 years.
Cyrille Roget, technical and scientific communication director for Michelin global, said the varying technologies in the concept tire offer different levels of maturity. “Some of them could be two years; others would take 10 years or more to come to life.” During the tire’s introduction, Terry Gettys, executive vice president of research and development for Michelin, says the concept tire is the company’s vision of “a perfect solution for the future for sustainable mobility. It’s a system solution of products and unprecedented services.”
Here are the tire’s highlights, from Gettys:
- It’s an airless tire made from completely recyclable material. It’s lightweight, and because it’s never inflated, there are no flat tires, and thus for consumers, no downtime.
- It’s connected. “It’s a tire that’s connected to a vehicle that’s connected with drivers that are connected.”
- The tread is rechargeable. It can be rapidly reloaded and customized for the consumer’s path.
“You might be thinking well that’s a dream. And you’d be right. It is a dream, it’s a long-term concept which brings together all of our elements of sustainable mobility,” Gettys said. “However we can proclaim it’s a very realistic dream because all of the components that I just described are the topics of current research projects at Michelin and we can project delivering on those solutions.”