CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — The future of the tire industry depends on how it responds to the revolution of transport systems globally, according to Goodyear's senior director of external science and technology programs.
Surendra Chawla, who's been in his position with Goodyear since 2007, delivered the keynote address at ITEC in Focus: Reinforcements for Tire Performance, a one-day conference held in mid-September.
In his presentation, Mr. Chawla said the tire industry must deal not only with technical issues but also with environmental, economic, social and political issues, all of which will be critical for the industry to address to develop sustainability, mobility and growth.
Among the enviromental issues, Mr. Chawla cited global warming, resource conservation, pollutant reduction and improvements in recycling.
Social issues include a wider range of vehicle choices, an aging population, consumer safety and security. Economic issues include manufacturing cost reduction, reduction in development time and increases in value and reduction in costs of ownership.
Political themes will be some of the most important for the industry to notice in coming years, he said.
"Regulations such as fuel economy, noise control and emissions are the biggest challenge for the automobile industry, and will continue to remain so for a while," he said.
The direction of vehicle technology will continue with a focus toward advances in engine and powertrain; hybrid, electric and alternative-fueled vehicles; advanced software and sensors; advanced structures and materials; and efficient design and manufacturing processes.
"The industry in general is focusing on tires that provide ultra lightweight, low rolling resistance, improved noise and vibration, and handling. Intelligent tires that can communicate with smart vehicles of the future," Mr. Chawla said.
Tires will need to bring continued reliability and safety, including improvements in wet traction while being highly flexible, using energy-efficient manufacturing design and manufacturing methods, he said.
Those changes in tire technology will come under stricter scrutiny and regulation going forward, as tire labeling has been instituted in Europe since 2012 and in Brazil starting in 2016. Both the U.S. and China are expected to use similar labeling regulations in the future, Mr. Chawla said.