But if there is one tire maker that can embrace the uncertain and make the transition to new mobility with grace and fortitude, Scott Clark is certain that it's Michelin.
"Quite frankly, many of those (CASE) trends leverage Michelin's strengths and give us an opportunity to generate value through our leadership in technology," Clark, Michelin executive vice president of automotive, motorsport, experiences and the Americas Regions, said during the tire maker's recent Capital Market Days on April 8.
New automotive technologies change the game for tire makers, because they change the expectations of and demands on the tires. Electrified powertrains, especially, call on tires to last longer and go farther.
And as it turns out, those are the expectations Michelin has always put on its own tires. The expertise the tire maker has fostered in these areas, particularly in the last 20-30 years, position it to be a leader in the years ahead.
"We are really in a defining moment," Alexis Garcin, Michelin North America Inc. chairman and president, said later, during an exclusive interview with Rubber & Plastics News. " … We are at a time where what we have been developing over the last decades—if not now a century—is coming to a point where it is extremely relevant for the environment we are in and what is in front of us."
Globally, governments are backing the transition to lower-emissions vehicles with regulations and infrastructure investments. OEMs also are pouring financial resources into the development of EVs, with several pledging to discontinue sales of internal combustion engines within the coming two decades.
Although it could be a while before sales of EVs actually eclipse the sales of ICE vehicles, it's clear that the momentum is moving toward electrification. Michelin estimates that by 2030, about half of all new vehicles sold will have electric powertrains.
"If we look at EV's share of total new car sales," Clark said, "we anticipate that nearly quadrupling between 2020 and 2030."