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Goodyear’s two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg; three development centers in Hanau, Germany; Pulandian, China; and Hebron, Ohio; and our four regional innovation labs, help us to develop and test state-of-the-art products and services. Our key business leaders hold annual Product and Innovation Leadership reviews to discuss regional product needs, developing technologies, regulatory changes, customer input, benchmarking, new product roadmaps and upcoming product launches. Goodyear’s Technology and Materials teams create roadmaps for potential products, following a technology creation process (TCP) and product creation process (PCP) that include technology or product development, prototype testing, manufacturing scale and ultimately product launches. Quarterly meetings discuss progress on TCPs and PCPs, and emerging market trends, and to ensure that our processes and products provide optimized tire performance and meet tire labeling and regulatory requirements.
When we test our products, we take into account regulatory requirements for all countries and regions where we operate, as well as additional testing to meet Goodyear’s stringent standards for performance and handling. For example, tire labeling regulations in Europe require three metrics—fuel efficiency, wet grip and external road noise. In Europe, Goodyear was first to achieve an A label in rolling resistance for an all-season tire also rated as 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake certified. We also test our tires across more than 50 safety and performance metrics before they enter the market.
Goodyear also extended its leadership position in virtual product development in 2020 with the expansion of vehicle simulation. This included the installation of both compact and fully dynamic driving simulators (shown below), a first in the industry, providing a level of simulation sophistication to allow Goodyear to drive breakthroughs in future tire creation, leading to an enhanced customer and driver experience. Virtual simulation efforts will help lead to fewer physical testing iterations and provide a more sustainable testing future. As referenced in the Bold Goals, by 2024, Goodyear is seeking to reduce our physical testing iterations to one per SKU, a dramatic reduction from current levels.
The automotive industry trend toward a virtual development cycle provides an opportunity for tire development and this new simulation avenue allows Goodyear to work more collaboratively with automobile manufacturers on original equipment fitments. The driving simulators are being used for virtual development and tuning of dynamic performances of tires, aided by the ability to simulate a range of driving conditions.
Goodyear’s Life Cycle Assessment results point to the product-use phase as our greatest opportunity to reduce GHG emissions. Goodyear has the ability to help influence fuel efficiency through our tires’ rolling resistance and weight. A tire with low rolling resistance and a vehicle with less weight consume less fuel and emit fewer greenhouse emissions. To help reduce rolling resistance, tire construction must reduce unnecessary weight and minimize the energy losses in the tire, while providing safe performance. Therefore, we always test our rolling resistance and weight reduction advancements in tandem with wet grip to ensure top performance in both categories.
To illustrate our commitment to improve vehicle fuel efficiency, we are working toward the following goals for our global consumer tire portfolio: reduce rolling resistance by 40% and reduce tire weight by 9% by 2025 from a 2005 baseline.
Goodyear developed state-of-the-art technology in rubber compounding, tire construction and manufacturing to meet the increasing demand for lighter tires with low rolling resistance. Rubber compounding efforts include testing different methods to mix and cure the compound, as well as alternative materials and fillers that could enhance fuel efficiency. For the past decade, Goodyear has applied lightweight technology to many of our tires.
Safety is a top priority for Goodyear, our OEM customers and consumers. Enhanced tire safety comes from wet grip—the braking behavior of tires on a wet road—and added traction for winter road conditions. We continuously innovate and test for potential performance improvements in wet, dry and winter conditions.
One Goodyear innovation that enhances tire performance stems from a renewable, bio-based material: soybean oil. In 2012, Goodyear scientists and engineers—with the support from the United Soybean Board—began developing a tread compound in which soybean oil replaced 100% of petroleum-derived oil. Soybean oil helps keep a tire’s rubber compound pliable in changing temperatures, a key performance achievement to maintaining and enhancing vehicle grip on roadways. We commercialized this innovation in our Assurance WeatherReady™ consumer tire line in 2017, followed by three additional product lines in recent years. In 2018, we received the “Environmental Achievement of the Year” award for this tire line from Tire Technology International. Given the innovation and performance excellence that we are able to provide our customers with this product, Goodyear is developing additional soybean-oil-based tire lines, and actively working toward our goals to increase soy oil consumption by 25% by 2020 and fully replace petroleum-derived oils by 2040.
Tire longevity reduces the number of tires that reach their end of life in a given year. Tire longevity is especially important to Goodyear’s fleet customers, who save significant time and labor by replacing fewer tires, as well as electric vehicle customers, who benefit from longer-lasting tires to handle increased torque from electric engines.
In 2018, we launched the Assurance MaxLife consumer tire in the US, which features TredLife™ Technology with easy tread-depth readings and our highest tread wear limited warranty for consumer tires. In our commercial truck tire portfolio, Goodyear’s Endurance LHS steer tire is delivering extraordinary mileage, exceeding 200,000 miles for some fleets.
Goodyear also offers commercial and off-highway retreading services to increase tire longevity. We are known by our commercial and off-highway fleet customers for our efficient retread services, which enable them to get back on the road quickly and save money.
Goodyear is working to reduce the road noise from our tires through a combination of tread design and construction of the tire carcass. Because some vehicle constructions are more sensitive to tire noise produced by air vibration inside the tire cavity, we created Sound Comfort Technology to reduce tire air cavity resonance. Our technology applies an open-cell polyurethane foam element to the inner surface of the tire that enables a vehicle interior noise reduction of up to 4dB. The foam is also light enough to avoid negative impacts on tire weight or rolling resistance.