AKRON — Rich Kramer, Goodyear's top executive, painted an exciting future for the tire industry, his company and for independent tire dealers during the tire maker's recent Customer Conference in Nashville.
With forecasters predicting a doubling of vehicle miles traveled globally to 20 trillion by 2030, demand for tires will only increase, he said. In addition, it's likely that electrically powered vehicles will gain favor and eventually make the combustion engine obsolete.
Powering this, he suggested, will be the growth of autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing fleets with increased connectivity among the various entities.
It's an exciting — albeit scary — future, certainly one that would be vastly different than the tire and automotive industry we know today.
The question for independent tire dealers is how to prepare for what sounds like mind-boggling change, especially when it's uncertain at what pace such change will occur.
Mr. Kramer provided some direction in his speech to dealers in Nashville.
Noting that the world clearly is heading into a new mobility ecosystem, Mr. Kramer shared a comment he'd heard that resonated with him: "We tend to overestimate what we think we can do in one year, and we underestimate what we can do in five."
"This new mobility ecosystem is not here yet, and it may not be tomorrow...but it's coming and it's coming sooner than we think," he said.
So the good news is there's plenty of time to prepare your dealership, and your thinking, to be part of this evolutionary mobility ecosystem, one that could feature fleets of electric and autonomous vehicles interconnected with manufacturers, consumers, suppliers, service providers and even with each other. Complicating this is the fact there still will be, most likely, millions of vehicles on the roads that aren't so connected and remain personally owned by consumers.
It's a confusing scenario, to say the least, but implied in this comment is a caveat that it's best to start thinking today of how to take advantage of what might be coming in the future — before it gets here.
Keep in mind, too, that tires, whether they come on fleet vehicles or are owned by individuals, have to be installed and balanced in a service operation.
That should give tire dealers comfort as they look ahead and prepare for a new world.