"There was a lot of skepticism all over the place when this concept came up," Ian Coke, Pirelli North America's chief technical officer, said regarding the growing all-weather segment. "What are you trading off, right? … But I think that has pushed everybody to develop technology—mostly on the materials side—to be able to not have such as drastic compromise."
That push, it turns out, is a very good thing, particularly given the auto industry's pull toward electrification. It's a move placing new demands—greater demands—on tires.
EVs with their higher weights, tremendous torque, regenerative braking and near silent rides are putting the spotlights on tires like never before. Tires need to be robust and durable while offering exceptionally quiet, comfortable rides.
And so far, tire makers are meeting that challenge, too. They're designing tires for complicated EV platforms and expanding the capabilities of all vehicles in the process—especially in regard to range.
For Michelin, though, the challenges don't stop there. Through a survey it conducted last fall, Michelin found that 83 percent of consumers don't know how important a tire is to the performance of a vehicle—EV or otherwise.
That's just one finding in a larger survey that offers some broader truths. Mainly, that the industry is left not only building next-generation technology at incredible speed, it's got to educate consumers about these strides in the process. That's a calling to which Michelin has responded, but it's not one for the company alone.
Just as sustainability requires an all-in approach from every corner of the industry, so too will the educational efforts.
It is, after all, just another factor shaping the evolutionary moment for tire makers.