PK Walia, Vice President-Consumer Business, Goodyear India told Bhargav TS on the initiatives taken to enhance the tyre life and fuel efficiency by adopting new technology and its focus on R&D. Edited excerpts:

P K Walia

P K Walia

Q: What is Goodyear doing on tyre R&D and what is the way forward?

Walia: Goodyear has 2 global innovation centres for R&D each in Akron, Ohio and the other in Luxembourg. These strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry. Goodyear India’s research and development team collaborates closely with Goodyear’s global innovation centres on developing products for the local market to cater prevailing local conditions. Some of the areas Goodyear India collaborates with its global innovation centres are new product development for export and local markets, optimisation of tyre constructions and compound formulations to enhance product performance and reductions in energy usage.

Q: How do you reduce rolling resistance when you have no option to improve the road surface?

Walia: Goodyear has developed a proprietary “Fuel Saving Technology” that gets used in selected tyres to specifically reduce rolling resistance. There is a lot of science that goes into developing this technology which helps to reduce rolling resistance, minimising the degree of deformation in the tyre when it interacts with the road surface; using compounds that reduce energy absorption by the tyre, such as silica based compounds which minimise heat build-up within the tyre.

Q: How do you overcome challenges in rolling resistance?

Walia: The biggest challenge in reducing rolling resistance is getting complied with technology standards without compromising other performance characteristics of the tyre, such as braking and handling. One area that can be evaluated when developing tyres with lower rolling resistance is how to reduce the weight of the tyre to minimise heat build-up while maintaining durability in severe road conditions. At Goodyear, we develop new technologies for lighter but stronger tyre components whilst lowering the overall tyre weight.

Q: Manufacturers are facing challenges in terms of temperature, cut-resistance and steer ability with each feature contradicting others. How do you manage?

Walia: Tyre design and development is not specifically one element over the other. The overall tyre performance is balanced to deliver on the consumer’s specific “in-use” needs or to the OEM’s specifications. It is the way the various components of tread design, carcass design, component technology, compounding technology and manufacturing process come together to optimise the entire tyre performance package that needs to be successfully managed as a package. Goodyear has the technology and the capability to integrate all of these elements to deliver improvements in each area, as well as make advances in how they interact with each other.

Assurance TripleMax - For Power Braking

Assurance TripleMax – For Power Braking

Q: While looking at the matured markets, where does India stand in terms of safety?

Walia: Indian driving and road conditions are more challenging in comparison to matured markets. Road conditions in most parts of the country compel tyre manufacturers to produce products that provide adequate durability. The cheaper tyres on the market will generally not have the same performance as higher technology products in areas such as wet braking and Goodyear develops tyres keeping safety as the main purview.

Q: In order to promote safety, what kind of safety features your tyres offer?

Walia: The right kind of tyre can improve handing in wet and dry conditions, provide greater vehicle stability and improve safety through more effective braking. Safety has always been one of Goodyear’s key focuses and is a major concern of drivers today, especially in wet road conditions. If you look our HydroGrip Technology, it allows the Assurance TripleMax tyre to stop 2 metres shorter than key competitors on wet roads. RunOnFlat Technology is an another revolutionary innovation which emphasise on safety. These tyres allow a car to travel for up to 80 kms at 80 kph on a flat tyre and are based on the concept of reinforced sidewalls inside the tyre. When a standard tyre deflates, it simply collapses under the weight of the car, causing the beads to come off the rim and the sidewalls will be squashed onto the road. The reinforced sidewalls in RunOnFlat tyres keep the tyre on the rim and eliminate this fiasco.

Q: How your products are manufactured in an eco-friendly manner?

Walia: Goodyear is a “Zero Waste to Landfill” manufacturer; segregating, re-using and recycling to minimise its effect on the environment. When disposal is necessary, waste is removed by authorised waste vendors, to assure that it is disposed of in the safest manner. Goodyear is also currently undertaking multiple initiatives to increase its use of renewable raw materials. Goodyear researchers have found that using soybean oil in tyres can potentially increase tread life by 10% and 7 million gallons of petroleum based oil use will be reduced each year. Goodyear also announced it will utilise ash, left over from the burning of rice husks to produce electricity yet another move against environment safety. In tyre design, Goodyear’s Fuel Saving Technology in tyres such as the Assurance TripleMax, EfficientGrip Performance, EfficientGrip SUV and Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 is designed to improve a vehicle’s fuel efficiency and in 2015, Goodyear also introduced a next-generation silica to increase the fuel-efficiency of its tyres.

Q: To reduce the tyre noise what are all the components that contribute to this and how do you address them?

Walia: Reduction of tyre noise is becoming increasingly important to Indian consumers. We have developed QuietTred Technology to address this specific issue, which can be found in the EfficientGrip and EfficientGrip SUV tyres. Some of the components that help to reduce noise are tread designs focused on minimising the opportunity for sound to echo within the tread, tread that provides smoother interactions between tread blocks and the road surface and tyre carcass designs with noise absorption and vibration dampening technologies.

Q: How is the domestic market in India faring?

Walia: As far as passenger tyre market is concerned, there has been gradual recovery this year which is primarily driven by new product launches in second half of the year.

Q: How is Goodyear planning to grow in the Indian market and what is the target for next 3 years?

Walia: Our immediate focus is to produce high quality products from our plants for the local market and continue to innovate. Developing our people and teams is another key priority to ensure we can continue to serve our customers better than anyone else. Our long term goal is to create sustainable economic value, which can be achieved by being first with customers, the leader in our targeted segments, continuing to set the pace for innovation and being competitively advanced in everything we do. But more than that, we’ll be the company that everyone wants to do business with—customers, consumers, associates and the community.

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