Tires

World's first carbon neutral tire launched by Michelin

The E.Primacy was developed with sustainability in mind.

Photo courtesy of Michelin

The balance between carbon emissions and carbon savings is a seesaw that companies around the world are riding. Michelin has gotten the weight on each side to even out, producing the world's first carbon neutral tire, the e.Primacy.

The tire was designed with environmental responsibility in focus. The result is a tire with the lowest rolling resistance in its category, which reduces the CO2 emissions put out by a vehicle and results in savings for the customer. The rolling resistance leads to around 343 pounds less CO2 emitted to the atmosphere over the life of the tire.

Electric vehicles can gain up to seven percent range with the tire.

A Michelin-commissioned tests show that drivers using e.Primacy save around seven fluid ounces of fuel per 62 miles. If your car gets 400 miles to the tank, that's about a third of a gallon per fill-up.

Though it might just look like low-resistance rubber to the casual observer, the tire is packed full of technology. It has "energy passive" high elasticity compounds, improved elastomer-filler coupling, thinner top belts, cool-running sidewalls, and a hermetic belt to reduce energy loss.

The tire was engineered to be carbon neutral at the point of purchase, taking into account emissions from raw material extraction to delivery to the customer. Michelin has promised that its tires will be 20 percent more energy efficient by 2030 compared to where they were in 2010. Additionally, the company is working to use more renewable and recycled materials to manufacture its tires.

Michelin has pledged to lower CO2 emissions from all its production facilities by 50 percent by 2030 compared to 2010 numbers. The company has the longer term goal of achieving carbo neutrality by 2050. To achieve this goal, Michelin has invites in projects that avoid, absorb or offset carbon emissions, including tree replanting.

The Michelin e.Primacy will be available in 56 sizes, from 15 inches to 20 inches, starting on March 1, 2021.

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Volvo is transitioning to an all-electric lineup.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars

Volvo Cars is the latest company to take their commitment to electric powertrains to a new level. Unlike other automakers, like Land Rover who is promising an electric option for its model lineup, Volvo is planning to make their whole lineup electric by 2030.

This means that there will only be all-electric cars and SUVs in its global portfolio and all internal combustion engine and hybrid models will be phased out. By 2025, it aims for 50 percent of its global sales to consist of fully electric cars, with the rest hybrids. By 2040, the company hopes to be carbon neutral. Nissan has similar goals.

Volvo XC40 The Volvo XC40 is currently offered as an all-electric model.Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars

Volvo XC40

Additionally, the brand is rolling out a new commercial strategy that will have them invest heavily in online sales channels in a move to reduce the complexity of its product offerings and set pricing on models, eliminating bargaining at the point of sale, something that the Saturn brand was known for. Via VolvoCars.com buyers will be able to choose from pre-configured electric Volvos that are ready for ordering and quick delivery.

"The future of Volvo Cars is defined by three pillars: electric, online and growth," says Lex Kerssemakers, Head of Global Commercial Operations at Volvo Cars. "We want to offer our customers peace of mind and a care-free way of having a Volvo, by taking away complexity while getting and driving the car. Simplification and convenience are key to everything we do."

Customer offerings will all be housed under one brand, Care by Volvo, which was, until now, the name of the company's subscription service platform.

Dealerships and sales associates still factor into the company's plans. That's good, because many states require new car sales to occur only though an authorized dealership, a point of contention for emerging brands due to the expense and logistic annoyance of establishing a dealer network. Dealerships will be tasked with "a variety of important services such as selling, preparing, delivering and servicing cars" according to a release.

Volvo online ordering and financing process

Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars

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"Online and off-line need to be fully and seamlessly integrated," added Lex Kerssemakers. "Wherever the customer is in their journey – online, in a showroom, in a Volvo Studio, or driving the car – the customer experience needs to be top-notch."

The purchase of an electric Volvo will include a package of traditional extras including service, warranty, roadside assistance, insurance (where available), and home charging options. Sans the insurance, many electric vehicle manufacturers offer these extras already.

"There is no long-term future for cars with an internal combustion engine," said Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer at Volvo Cars. "We are firmly committed to becoming an electric-only car maker and the transition should happen by 2030. It will allow us to meet the expectations of our customers and be a part of the solution when it comes to fighting climate change."

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The Michelin VISION tire is the tire of the future for the company

Photo courtesy of Michelin

Sustainability is in focus for most of the world's automakers. Making cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans that pollute the Earth less than their predecessors is their focus alongside emerging safety and driver assistance technology. Others in the auto industry supply chain are also looking to become more sustainable, including Michelin.

The tire company has announced that by 2050, Michelin tires will be made entirely from renewable, recycled, bio sourced, and otherwise sustainable materials. Today, nearly 30 percent of the materials used in manufacturing Michelin Group tires is are sustainable.

A study released last year, Emissions Analytics, an independent global testing and data company that studies real-world emissions and fuel efficiency for passenger and commercial vehicles, found that pollution from tire wear can be 1,000 times worse than what comes out of a vehicle's exhaust pipe. Unlike exhaust pollution, tire and brake pollution is mostly unregulated.

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In 2017, Michelin introduced the VISION tire, a concept that is airless, connected, rechargeable, and entirely sustainable. Since then, the company has invested in recycling efforts, buying up rubber pellet recyclers in the State of Georgia and in Spain.

The current lineup of Michelin tires consists of products that contain more than 200 ingredients each. The main part of the equation is natural rubber, which is harvested from rubber trees via a process that requires tapping a tree much in the same way that maple syrup comes from maple trees. Rubber trees traditionally need to be at least six years old before they are harvested.

Other materials in Michelin tires include synthetic rubber, metal, fibers, and components that are designed to strengthen the tire's structure like carbon black, silica, and plasticizers.

In a statement, a spokesperson fro Michelin said, "Michelin's maturity in materials technology stems from the strength of its R&D capabilities, which are supported by 6,000 people working in seven research and development centers around the world and mastering 350 areas of expertise. The commitment of these engineers, researchers, chemists and developers has led to the filing of 10,000 patents covering tyre design and manufacturing. They work hard every day to find the recipes that will improve tyre safety, durability, ride and other performance features, while helping to make them 100-percent sustainable by 2050."

Michelin has partnered with a number of companies to create materials of the future. Axens and IFP Energies Nouvelles, the two companies that are spearheading the BioButterfly project, have been working with Michelin since 2019 on producing bio-sourced butadiene to replace petroleum-based butadiene. Using the biomass from wood, rice husks, leaves, corn stalk, and other plant waste, 4.2 million tons of wood chips could be incorporated into Michelin tires every year with the materials replacement.

A partnership between Michelin and Pyroware can produce recycled styrene from plastics found in packaging. Styrene is used to produce synthetic rubber. Eventually, tens of thousands of tonnes of polystyrene waste could be recycled back into its original products as well as into Michelin tires every year.

Additionally, Michelin will launch the construction of its first tire recycling plant in the world with Encivo, a Swedish company that has developed a patented technology to recover carbon black, pyrolysis oil, steel, gas and other new, high-quality reusable materials from end-of-life tires.

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