Aug 19, 2023
In a recent thought-provoking address at the Akron Roundtable, Goodyear's CEO, Rich Kramer, characterized the tire industry as standing at a momentous "inflection point." As technology and data reshape the landscape of mobility, the tire industry finds itself at the crossroads of evolution. Drawing parallels to the transition from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles, Kramer painted a compelling picture of a future where tires become intelligent companions on our journeys, transforming the driving experience as we know it.
Kramer's message was clear: The key to Goodyear's success, as well as the larger Akron community's, lies in embracing change with a proactive attitude. Addressing attendees on the occasion of Goodyear's 125th anniversary, he shared insights into how the company's founders began laying the groundwork for today's achievements, despite having no inkling of the world that would unfold over a century later.
Throughout its history, Goodyear has faced various inflection points, those pivotal moments when everything shifts irreversibly. Kramer cited instances such as the introduction of automobiles and the challenges of World War II that pushed Goodyear to pioneer advances in synthetic rubber. The company's legacy of confronting challenges head-on and adapting to new solutions provides them the confidence to tackle the unforeseen future.
Goodyear distilled its strategy for navigating the changing mobility landscape into the acronym FACES: Fleets and Autonomous, Connected, Electric, and Sustainable Vehicles.
Fleets and Autonomous: Shared mobility and ridesharing have transformed individual car ownership into a less pivotal milestone. The rise of autonomous vehicles, particularly in cargo transportation, is already making waves. Goodyear's collaborations with autonomous delivery innovator Gatik exemplify this commitment.
Connected Vehicles: The future will see vehicles not only connected to their drivers' devices but also to the road itself. Tires, as the sole point of contact between the vehicle and the road, play a vital role in this ecosystem. Goodyear's sensors and algorithms, measuring tire temperature, wear, load, and road friction, are a testament to this vision.
Electric Vehicles: The electric vehicle revolution, led by trailblazers like Tesla, has reshaped the automotive industry's landscape. Traditional manufacturers now contend with startups as equals in the competitive race. Goodyear acknowledges this dynamic transformation and stands ready to provide cutting-edge tire solutions for these innovative vehicles.
Sustainable Vehicles: Sustainability is no longer an afterthought but a crucial consideration in tire manufacturing. From reducing emissions to exploring sustainable materials, Goodyear's Beyond Tires initiative strives to craft environmentally conscious products. Their ambition to create a tire made of 100% sustainable materials by 2030 underscores this commitment.
Kramer revealed that Goodyear's evolution extends beyond being a mere tire manufacturer. The launch of the San Francisco innovation lab led to the creation of AndGo, a real-time data platform for fleet vehicles. By using data to enhance fleet efficiency, Goodyear has successfully transitioned from a tire provider to a technology-driven mobility company.
Kramer also acknowledged the symbiotic relationship between Goodyear and its hometown, Akron. The city's historical ties to the automotive industry have shaped Goodyear's journey, and in return, Goodyear has contributed significantly to Akron's growth. With the University of Akron playing a pivotal role in the company's talent pool, the partnership between the institution and Goodyear underscores their shared commitment to the community's success.
In closing, Kramer emphasized that Akron is no longer just the "Rubber City." It has transformed into a place of innovation, creativity, and limitless possibilities. As Goodyear embraces technology and reshapes the mobility landscape, it mirrors Akron's own evolution into a city where individuals can make their dreams a reality and drive change that matters.
In a world where technology propels us forward, Goodyear's visionary approach serves as a testament to the limitless potential of the tire industry's turning point. As they drive forward on this transformative journey, it's clear that the road ahead is full of promise and excitement.