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Goldstine spent most of his career in consumer packaged goods before joining Bridgestone in 2017 as president of the company's Firestone Fiber and Textile business. He became senior vice president of fleet management solutions in January 2019 before being named to his newly created post this past March.
While the pandemic has forced Bridgestone to adapt to changes in consumer behavior, the onset of electric and autonomous vehicle technology opens up opportunities to "innovate, evolve and look to new and better ways for a sustainable future," Goldstine said.
"The health and safety of our Bridgestone teammates is the highest priority for us, as is doing what we can to help control spread of virus in our communities," Goldstine said. "But we now have a chance to drive change at a pace we have not seen before. Some changes may be more accelerated, some may take years."
The transition begins
Goldstine said Bridgestone's fleet mobility segment has implemented the idea of Connected, Automated, Shared Electrification, known simply as CASE, which is the notion of an omniscient, interconnected ecosystem of products and services for EV and AV vehicles.
With its eye toward the future, Bridgestone predicts that internal combustion vehicle sales will peak in 2021. By 2025, Goldstine said, EVs will be more economical than internal combustion engine vehicles. By 2030, 50 percent of all vehicles sold are expected to be an EV or a hybrid.
And by 2035, 24 percent of vehicles sold are expected to be self-driving cars, he said.
As the miles driven are expected to increase in every auto segment, the effects on fleet management will be crucial.
"Vehicle maintenance will continue to be important, as downtime is the enemy," Goldstine said. "Lowering the cost of ownership will be critical."
The active use of fleet management systems—from the smart tires to the lithium ion batteries to the sensors within the vehicle itself—will be driven by small to medium fleets of vehicles, and not necessarily by the larger fleets.
But Goldstine cautioned against a "one size fits all" approach to fleet management.
"All fleets are not the same thing," he said. "Different segments require different solutions, a different operating model."
Light commercial vehicles are expected to adopt the battery energy source at the highest rates, as that is the only predicted category (besides closed-space heavy duty trucks) where the lithium ion battery distance per charge exceeds the daily expected mileage.
With medium duty trucks and HDTs, the daily route mileage far exceeds the battery distance per charge.
"A one-size-fits-all approach is not the case in this marketplace. Understanding your customer is critical to providing the right solutions in the right way," Goldstine said.
Tires a critical component
So what is the tire's role in this global revolution in fleet mobility?
"EVs and AVs are important to discuss—but overlooked is the role of the tire, which is the only part of vehicle connected to the road," Goldstine said. "The reality is that the tire sits at the forefront of enabling an autonomous, connected future."
As such, Bridgestone—as well as other auto and tire makers—is looking at the tire as a real-world, real-time source of information, a product that can sense, think and act on information via sensors in and around the tire and wheel.
The smart tire could be instrumental in ensuring a smooth, quiet ride in an EV passenger vehicle; in saving millions of dollars in downtime via predictive maintenance for the HDT segment; or by virtue of its safety, helping to proactively avoid and anticipate risks.
"They can offer real-time road and weather conditions, offering critical data to the vehicle and helping to support this overall ecosystem," Goldstine said. "With advanced algorithms and analytics, the tires can monitor and predict when service will be needed and the action that needs to be taken—all seamlessly automated, reducing manual interaction."
The importance of this technology is no more critical than in the harsh environments found in the mining and aerospace industries, where extreme temperatures and pressures are the norm.
"In the global mining segment, any incident creates inefficiencies and safety risks, and this is where a tire-centric solution comes into play," he said. "They predict the moment of tire failure."
Goldstine cited Bridgestone's iTrack solutions business, designed to track temperature, pressure, g-forces and speed in mining tires.
And in the tire maker's aerospace segment, the technology is equally important considering the repetition and extreme thresholds caused by takeoffs and landings.
"These innovations will trickle down to other parts of the market," Goldstine said.
No matter the power source, extended mobility has become increasingly important as well, Goldstine said.
"There won't be a driver to change the tire in an autonomous setting," he said. "Run-flat and sealant technology continue to be important parts of our studies, especially in the short term."
For the long term, Bridgestone is working on non-pneumatic, or air-free, solutions for the passenger and truck vehicle markets, Goldstine said, adding that the development of air-free tires "is years, not months" away.
In the HDT segment, air-free tires could help meet important safety objectives.
"Air-free still is in the concept and testing phase ... we are looking at their use particularly in trailers," he said. "Based on the downtime that these failures can cause, it's a great place to start."
As the industry enters a new era for mobility and fleet management, "the biggest change in a couple generations," Goldstine said, the trends likely will remain—even post-COVID.
"The world is becoming increasingly connected," he said. "The biggest thing is maximizing the time on the road, and the answer to that is having an end-to-end ecosystem. The tire itself can help solve some of those challenges.
"We look forward to the future and all it has to offer."