Michelin Introduces Tires for EVs, Fleet Management ServicesBy Alejandro Enríquez | Mon, 08/30/2021 - 06:00
Q: How is Michelin supporting the automotive industry in the race toward carbon neutrality?
A: We contribute to the automotive sector in two ways. The first is through product development because the tire plays an important role in vehicle performance. With ICE vehicles, this development can support fuel savings, while in the case of EVs, it supports vehicle autonomy. It also helps to reduce CO2 emissions. The second is through product durability, with tires that last longer. Every industry and subsegment is trying to reduce the environmental impact of tire manufacturing.
Q: How is Michelin implementing and enforcing sustainability practices in its operations in Mexico?
A: We have two plants in Mexico but the newest facility, in Leon, Guanajuato, is still under construction. We invested heavily in providing both plants with green energy solutions and power alternatives. At our plant in Queretaro, we monitor our environmental impact and are constantly trying to reduce it. We also want to explore the community element of sustainability through projects in the surrounding communities for social development, which can also include initiatives like tire recycling.
During the pandemic, we provided communities with the materials they needed. We consider ourselves a 100 percent Mexican company, so this is part of our role in the community.
Q: What are the particular needs of EVs when it comes to tires and how is Michelin addressing them?
A: The electrification of the vehicle park introduces technological challenges. At Michelin, we enjoy challenges. In the case of EVs, the challenges related to torque and energy distribution. Tires influence battery life. Michelin has invested in researching these technologies for the past seven years when we started to sponsor Formula E. Tires for Formula E are different than those for Formula 1 but they are very similar to those for electric vehicles. After seven years of technical development, we have reduced tire weight and energy consumption. This year, we introduced the Pilot Sport EV tire, which is the first tire specifically designed for EVs. This tire reflects our commitment to outstanding vehicle performance and driving comfort. We will start to manufacture this special tire in Leon and it will soon become a leading product in its segment.
Q: How does Michelin’s participation in Formula E help the company improve its products for EVs?
A: Michelin has had the pleasure of sponsoring Formula E in Mexico since its launch. Our goal is not just marketing; we do it to make the most of our technology for EVs. For instance, we tested tires specifically for these vehicles and now we are reaping the fruits of a 10-year-old investment. Tire longevity is essential in this sport. Programmed obsolescence has no part in Formula E and we have transferred these lessons to the industry. Formula E allows us to test the performance of new tire materials and processes.
Our target for 2050 is to achieve full circularity on the tire production cycle. This will imply the production of a tire with recycled or natural materials and recycling it fully after use. Last year, we inaugurated our first tire recycling plant in Chile because of the high availability of tires for the mining sector.
Q: What is the added value of Michelin Connected Fleets in the competitive leasing market?
A: We are expanding our offering to fleet management or leasing companies through Michelin’s Fleet Management services, which improve the overall performance of fleets and their safety and security. In Mexico, the service is called Michelin Flotas Conectadas and offers telematics, cameras and sensors that allow companies to keep track of their fleet and improve its performance, which results in savings.
We offer high-performance state-of-the-art tech solutions thanks to previous acquisitions of fleet management companies. We provide an integrated offering with nationwide coverage supported by Michelin’s distribution centers. We are advancing to a connected, integrated platform concept that can be combined with insurance or financial services. Michelin has been in the market for 30 years and we continue to introduce new products here.
Q: What is your view of the Mexican market recovery?
A: Although the market is recovering, the industrial and commercial segments are experiencing a faster recovery. The end-customer segment is recovering more slowly and might not fully bounce back until 2022. In Central America, we are seeing considerable growth in the B2B and original equipment segments.
Agility will be the keyword for years to come. We are experiencing an unstable economic environment affected by logistics disruptions and inflation, which creates uncertainty. Being agile means rethinking forecasting processes, incorporating AI into operations and shortening supply chains. The industry will experience relocation and regionalization trends, which is one of the reasons we continue to invest in Mexico.
Michelin México is a Tier 1 company specialized in tire production. It has a manufacturing facility in Queretaro and another in Guanajuato. Michelin sponsors Formula E and has recently introduced its fleet management services: Michelin Flotas Conectadas.