Goodyear's deal to buy Cooper Tire could boost its tech and sustainability edge – Crain's Cleveland Business

Last year was a landmark one for electric vehicles (EVs). According to data from the Center for Automotive Research, EVs were the best performing segment of 2020. While overall vehicle sales dropped about 17%, EVs fell only 4.8% in a challenging year that also saw low gas and oil prices, factors that typically hurt EV sales.

Now, more automakers are poised to bring electrified models to the market, and they’re investing heavily in the technology, especially for the light vehicle market. General Motors Co. has pledged that all of its light vehicles will have electric powertrains by 2035. Ford Motor Co. aims to do the same in Europe by 2030.

As such, Goodyear is determined to be a leader in the production of tires for electric vehicles, and it has focused product development to fine-tune areas such as noise reduction (particularly through the use of foams in tires), rolling resistance and managing the increased weight of electric vehicles.

Those efforts already are paying off, according to Kramer, who said that roughly half of the new original equipment (OE) fitments Goodyear recently secured are for electric vehicles.

During a fourth-quarter earnings call Feb. 9, Kramer noted that Goodyear is heading into 2021 with momentum on the OE fitment side. Goodyear’s OE fitments, he said, were up 6% in the fourth quarter, outperforming the industry overall.

“While I’m pleased with our recent performance,” Kramer said in the earnings call, “I’m even more excited about the gains we expect in our OE business in 2021 and beyond.

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“OEMs are recognizing the commitment we’ve made to developing tires that will help them transform their portfolios to more energy-efficient and eco-friendly vehicles, while delivering performance capabilities consumers demand.”

Goodyear recently earned coveted OE fitments on high-profile electric vehicles such as GM’s electric Hummer and Lordstown Motors’ Edurance pickup, as well as Volkswagen Group’s ID.3. Opportunities like these should only increase as automakers step up their e-mobility game, committing more resources to the development of EVs.

Data released late last year by the Center for Automotive Research indicates that by 2025, EVs will account for 18% of total vehicle sales. By 2030, they should have roughly 28% of the market share.

This trend toward electrification reinforces the need for a combined Goodyear-Cooper Tire company to aggressively pursue new technologies and develop products for electric, autonomous and shared vehicles, officials said.

“Scale and breadth are also key to winning in new mobility,” Kramer said in the earnings call. “The change is driven by electrification of vehicles; shared mobility and the commercialization of autonomous vehicles are resulting in unprecedented disruption in the legacy auto industry and forced significant R&D investment.”

Those investments are taking root in more complex and reliable advanced drive-assistance systems for consumers and more advanced autonomous technology within the transportation sector.

Goodyear is ready to tackle those challenges too, Kramer said, pointing to his company’s research and development efforts focusing on connected and autonomous vehicles.



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