GREENVILLE, S.C. — Everything Michelin North America Inc. does must meet "three inseparable criteria — people, profit and planet" — as part of its sustainable strategy, MNA Chairman and President Alexis Garcin stressed in a Dec. 9 online presentation.
Michelin wants to contribute to the growth and development of people and, to a broader extent, humanity, through safe and sustainable mobility, he said, while at the same time producing profit as a company so it can grow and invest in new technologies, while also making a positive contribution to the planet.
The executive addressed sustainability and mobility issues during the presentation, which was part of the North American International Auto Show's "Q'd Up Mobility" monthly virtual series.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic early this year, Michelin's priority has been the long-term health, safety and well-being of its employees, their families and communities, he said.
So the company implemented health and safety measures across all its facilities in the U.S. and Canada, measures that are still in place.
Due to Michelin's vigilant safety protocols, "We are confident today that none of our employees have contracted the virus within our walls," Mr. Garcin said.
In April, Michelin began manufacturing face masks, and within two months its production was sufficient to fulfill the company's needs as well as the ability to donate 1 million masks to hospitals and first responders.
The tire maker also has been involved in community awareness campaigns regarding COVID-19 safety measures in its local communities.
Mr. Garcin said the disruption in lives and society since the pandemic has made Michelin's "I Care" leadership model, launched internally two years ago, increasingly relevant.
"Given the uncertainty that we have been facing, we leaders had to be humble and listen to our teams much more than before, …" he said.
"Because of this uncertainty, more than ever people were looking for connections, and I think that's why the leadership of tomorrow must be humble and approachable and must make sure employees understand that everyone has a role to play, that every voice counts."
As for the planet, the pandemic and the subsequent shutdowns across the globe curtailed transportation and factory operations, which resulted in a 7% to 9% drop in carbon emissions, he said, noting that reducing mobility is not sustainable.
Soon mobility trends will return to normal, and the industry needs to find sustainable ways to reduce the carbon footprint.
Michelin has been reducing the environmental footprint of its factories, he said.
"Already since 2005 we've improved this measure by 50% and want to make another 50% improvement by 2050, because we have to go further," Mr. Garcin said.
He pointed to Michelin's distribution center in Woodruff, S.C. — which opened last year and recently received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification — as an example of the company's efforts in these areas.
Michelin invented the first "green" tire nearly 30 years ago in Europe and has been innovating tire technology ever since, according to Mr. Garcin.
He said the company's e-Primacy tire line, recently introduced in Europe, is the "first tire that is CO2-neutral at the time of purchase."
The Michelin CrossClimate2 tire, launched in North America earlier this year, is designed to last longer, extending the amount of time before replacement.
High-technology materials help make the tire safer, when it is brand new or as it wears, he said.
"We do not have to compromise safety for the environment. We must and we will manage both the needs of people and the planet at the same time," he said.
Changes in the mobility market requires more innovation.
"We are investing in R&D like no one else in our industry," he said. "During our long history we have acquired unparalleled expertise in the physical and chemical properties of high-tech materials, their simulation, their production and engineering process and their application.
"And we leverage now all the digital tools and solutions to accelerate our progress on these processes and simulation as we partner with our customers to pursue the collective autonomous, shared and electric transformation that is already on-going," he added.