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Goodyear plays the Runflat card

Business Published the 31/03/2010 by Laurent

At the Geneva Motor Show, Goodyear presented its 3rd generation Runflat tyre. Technology of the future that may be fitted to tomorrow’s “clean” cars, as confirmed by Philippe Degeer, Europe Consumer Vice-president for the brand.

Philippe Degeer

rezulteo™ :Do you think the Runflat tyre is a product of the future?

Philippe Degeer : The future will offer a series of possible engines: hybrid, electric or hydrogen, and space savings will be crucial. In all cases, I see a future for the spare tyre and the Runflat concept is perfectly suited to this situation. The product we are presenting combines good rolling resistance, excellent road holding in the wet and space saving. When we look at car manufacturers’ projects for “green” vehicles, all these solutions require space in the vehicle. Goodyear pioneered this technology and intends to maintain its leadership.

rezulteo™ : The runflat tyre has always suffered from comfort issues. Is this still the case today?

Philippe Degeer : One weakness of the runflat tyre was a lack of comfort as based on the principle of supporting sidewalls. In Geneva, we presented a new generation of Runflat . This tyre, tested by TÜV (neutral and independent certification body) demonstrates comfort levels as good as traditional tyres with effective rolling resistance. For this reason, we speak today of a new product. We have a product with the best compromise between environment and safety, equivalent in comfort to a conventional product.  Today this technology is ready to be deployed in the industry, as it has reached maturity.

rezulteo™ : Will you also have to deal with the price constraint?

Philippe Degeer: The Runflat tyre is a product that sells for 10 to 15% more on average than a conventional tyre. In the future, and as we increase the volume and production efficiency, the price should come down significantly. However, there will always be a small difference, as the Runflat is a “technical” product containing materials that are a little more difficult to manufacture.

rezulteo™ : From November 2012, all manufacturers will have to apply a label to their products. How have you prepared for this?

Philippe Degeer: We have worked actively with the European Commission on developing this label. Originally, only information on rolling resistance was planned and we believed that it was necessary to widen this to include the safety aspect. For this reason, we insisted on including Wet Grip which we thought was just as important and was always associated with the brand. Our group is just as concerned with saving lives as with preserving the planet’s environment.

rezulteo™ : Does lower rolling resistance interest customers with powerful cars?

Philippe Degeer: Customer requirements still remain diversified. Some are very interested in fuel consumption, others have larger cars and are thus less preoccupied with rolling resistance. The technology will have to ensure that all these products reduce their impact on the environment in the same way. The combat is the same, it just occurs at different levels.

rezulteo™ : How can you make your ranges more uniform and at the same time mark the difference between user expectations whether they are looking for sports driving, economy or the runflat tyre?

Philippe Degeer: We have two brands in the group. Goodyear is positioned in the safety, family and environment segment, whatever car you own. However, if you are a driver who likes a sporty drive, the Dunlop brand is more suited to this type of clientele who likes taking their vehicle to the limit. We will continue to have these different approaches.

rezulteo™: As regards the development of 4x4 ranges, high consumers of fuel, have you planned to develop low rolling resistance and runflat tyres for this type of vehicle?

Philippe Degeer: The idea is to integrate rolling resistance technologies in these vehicles to make the same gains as on other vehicles. We start from the principle that there is not only one type of consumer in Europe and that manufacturers should provide a diversified offering to satisfy user needs. All these categories however, will have to limit their impact on the environment in any case.