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Michelin's Alexis Garcin: 'Crisis Has Strengthened Our Sustainable Vision'

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Michelin Alexis Garcin

Garcin spoke Dec. 9 during the monthly online forum hosted by the NAIAS in Detroit.

Alexis Garcin, chairman and president of Michelin North America Inc., says the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the tiremaker’s focus on sustainable mobility.

“The crisis has strengthened our sustainable vision. It made our strategy even more relevant,” Garcin said during a monthly online roundtable hosted by the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS.)

Garcin oversees Michelin’s operations in the U.S. and Canada, including its 22,000 employees.

“Everything we do at Michelin must meet three inseperable criteria: people, profit and planet. This is what drives our sustainable strategy.”

Here’s how he broke it down:

  • People: “We want to contribute to the growth and development of people and to the broader extent, to the development of humanity through a safe and sustainable mobility.”
  • Profit: “We have to deliver as a company a strong financial and operational performance to continue to grow, expand and invest in new developments and new technologies to provide innovative and creative solutions to our customers.”
  • Planet: We must “have a positive contribution to our planet and its inhabitants as we do not want to oppose over time the development of mobility and the protection of the environment.

“This is why we must manage people, profit and planet together, with the same intensity.”

Garcin said that strategy is in line with Michelin’s long-ago established values: respect for customers, respect for facts, respect for people, respect for the environment and respect for shareholders.

One bright spot of the pandemic has been a drop in emissions, estimated around 7% to 9%, but Garcin the restrictions and lack of mobility have come at a cost. “This is not sustainable. We know that reducing mobility is not a sustainable solution.”

That’s why Michelin continues to work on its environmental efforts, both in its factories, and in the creation of sustainable products. The company is also making new investments in hydrogen, which it considers “a growth driver for Michelin.”

As for a more near-term outlook, Garcin said he’s “cautiously confident for 2021.” The questions about vaccines have turned from “if” they’ll be available, to how quickly they can be delivered. But unemployment remains a factor, and he noted in the U.S. it’s about twice as high as it was a year ago.

There’s been resiliency in some sectors, including fleets, but “there are still some unknowns.” He expects the first half of 2021 to “still be difficult,” while the second half of the year should see improvement, and perhaps be closer to 2019.

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