A new report from Smithers, the multinational provider of testing, consulting, information, and compliance services, has identified the top 20 technologies that will transform the global tire industry across the next two decades. The trends identified range from new materials to smart driving concepts.
A new report from Smithers, The Impact of Autonomous Vehicles in Tires to 2029, calls for the automotive industry to shift from selling and servicing vehicles to a mobility industry that offers transportation solutions for people and goods. Electrification, autonomous vehicle technology and shared mobility are key to this shift as is the evolution of tire development.
There are significant hurdles to be overcome before full AVs can be widely adopted. These vehicles will make up a relatively small part of new vehicle sales, and an even smaller part of the global vehicle parc by 2029. Small shuttles, delivery vans and truck platooning are possible exceptions. In relation, the number of tires supplied for AV vehicles by 2029 will be small and predominately OE. These units are forecast to reach around 389 million (AV PC /LT/LCV + T&B) at a value of over $47 billion by 2029, reaching about 15% of the predicted PC/LT/LCV + T&B tire market volume in 2029.
AVs and tires types
Debate exits over whether AVs will advance the use of extended mobility tires and if so, which option – run-flat or selfsealing – will be used. Smithers conducted a survey that revealed mixed expectations from industry respondents. A significant number believe that more careful tire use by AVs will reduce failure and decrease the need for extended mobility solutions. While not essential for AVs, non-pneumatic tires are puncture proof and offer extended mobility and less maintenance. They may benefit AVs used in urban environments, especially autonomous taxi fleets.
A collaboration between GM and Michelin is planning to begin commercial sales of an electric car with an airless tire (Uptis which is a development of Michelin’s Tweel) by 2024 and with a fully autonomous version to follow. If successful, these moves will eventually have a major impact on tire technology, including materials, construction methods and equipment and after-sales service.
Regional trends in AV uptake
The penetration of EV and AV technologies will vary significantly between regions as political considerations play a strong role in introducing the necessary legislation. The relatively light regulatory environment in some states and the entrepreneurial culture in the US is expected to help. AV uptake in Europe may be hindered by the region’s strong regulatory nature. Customer acceptance varies greatly by geographical location and age: Markets such as China and India where car ownership is growing show more enthusiasm about using self-driving cars. Similarly, Millennials are more likely to embrace new technologies, including connected cars to fully autonomous vehicles.
The Smithers survey found that uptake of level 4–5 AV for PC/LT/LCV was expected to be North America>Europe>Asia Pacific. For trucks and buses, the order was predicted as Europe>North America>Asia Pacific. The higher rating for Europe T&B was due to the region’s interest in platooning. While all propulsion systems can be used, most AVs are expected to be electric. Not only do EVs provide significant synergies to AV, environmental concerns are leading to their adoption irrespective of AVs.
Tire sales for AVs to 2029
Because of the relatively small vehicle numbers, tires sales for AVs are expected to be a small part of the overall tire market by 2029 with OE sales dominating over replacement sales. Vehicle sectors in this report are differentiated into passenger car/LT/LCVs and T&B. Smithers was unable to quantify the passenger car and LT/LCV separately, but believe that LT/LCVs will be a relatively small part of the total. These are further differentiated into OE and replacement markets. The difference between OE and replacement markets is most pronounced in the PC/LT/LCVs tire sectors. See Figures E1 and E2.
Most survey respondents think the overall AV market (PC/LT/LCV + T&B level 2–5) will have most impact on AV tire materials/components and AV tire retail and AV tire marketing over the next 10 years. They rated the impact on these sectors as very high or high. AV tire materials/components is seen as the tire market sector that experiences the most innovation and change and generally moves forward faster than the other tire market sectors.
To learn more about this report, download the brochure at https://www.smithers.com/services/market-reports/transportation/impact-autonomous-vehicles-on-tires-to-2029.
Continuing global economic growth through 2024 is supporting vehicle production, the number of vehicles in use, and the number of tires supplied for these vehicles. A new report from Smithers, The Future of Global Tires to 2024, outlines the factors that are contributing to tire industry growth as well as the evolution taking place with products and services within the industry.
The global tire market is well positioned for further growth as it adapts to meet challenges across a complex matrix of tire type, end-use and regional markets. Estimated at over 2.36 billion units in 2019, topline volume tire growth is expected to continue at a 3.1% compound annual rate from 2019 through 2024, according to Smithers data.
In 2024, total global industry tire volume will reach 2.75 billion units. Value will grow somewhat faster due to a firmer raw material price outlook than in the recent past (and moderated by manufacturing efficiency gains). The 2019 market value of $239 billion will rise to $280 billion in 2024, for a 3.2% compound annual growth rate, Smithers research shows.
The drivers of growth in the global tire industry are best seen in tire types and end uses, grounded by the mature and traditionally technologically-advanced markets (such as the US, Western Europe and Japan), but increasingly dominated by volume and innovation in emerging markets in Asia ̶ primarily China and India.
The global consumption of raw materials by tire manufacturers is showing continued growth from 2019’s estimated 49.1 billion tonnes. Growth is approximately 2.7% per year, to 55.95 billion tonnes in 2024. Growth of raw materials is slower than tire unit volume due in part to greater efficiency (waste reduction) and efforts to reduce tire weight.
The share composition of materials used is remaining fairly stable through 2024, with exceptions for some of the materials finding greatest use in energy (aka green) tires where low rolling resistance continues to gain in importance, and within categories such as elastomers, where greater sustainability is being pursued (e.g. through reduction in fossil fuel derived ingredients, and in favor of renewables, where possible).
Growth in tire types
“General” tires account for the bulk of passenger (car, light truck, motorcycle) and goods (medium and heavy trucks, buses) transportation. These are relatively undifferentiated, non-speed-rated, lower-tier, mostly replacement tires for the over-the-road mass markets of light vehicles, truck and buses and motorcycles, particularly in large but still developing markets (especially China and India). They are still about four-fifths of the market by volume, but this share is steadily declining.
Growing much more rapidly are specialty tires, which include high-performance (aka speed-rated) and premium versions of tires for the major ground/over-road end uses, as well as more specialized types such as energy (aka green, or low rolling resistance, LRR) tires, run-flats, and winter tires.
Specialty tires by this definition are the area in which the leading mass market innovations are occurring, primarily in low rolling resistance tires, and higher-performance tires for larger, more powerful vehicles (such as SUVs, sports cars, electric vehicles). Volume growth is expected to average an impressive 6.6% per year from 2019 to 2024. The smaller segment (in volume, though more important in value terms) OTR (off-the-road) tires are also growing at an above-average rate. However, corresponding more exactly to specific end uses, we consider their prospects more in that context than by type.
Tire market by type, 2024, by volume (% share)
The segmentation of the global tire market by end use provides the most straightforward way of understanding the drivers of tire demand. Here, the high-performance, specialty type effect is submerged, but we can see the individual drivers at the application level. The passenger car and light truck share remains dominant, but the faster growth can be seen in motorcycle and OTR tires.
Declining to 68% of market volume in 2024, the passenger car and light truck segment is characterized by:
- Strong pressures to meet OEM fuel economy regulations and consumer labeling
- Further uptake of low rolling resistance tires
- Continuing popularity of high-performance tires
- Beginning of adaptation to electric (and to some degree, autonomous) vehicle requirements
To learn more about The Future of Global Tires to 2024 market report from Smithers, download a brochure at:
Important trends and technologies in all-season and winter tires are detailed in a market report recently released by Smithers. All-Season vs Winter Tires to 2024: A State-of-the-Art Report (Members of TRAC receive 15 per cent discount on all rubber industry market reports produced by Smithers) assesses the key technologies, materials and market drivers that enable tire performance in these two critical product segments, including regulatory, end-use (passenger cars and light trucks) and regional outlooks.
In terms of performance, several technologies account for the differences in all-season vs. winter tires, including materials, physical design, noise control technologies, processing, and modeling/simulation.
These technologies are ranked and detailed in the state-of-the-art report.
The large temperate climate regions of the US and China make all-season tires a standard for most areas except for the northern most regions. Even in many of those areas, and in parts of southern Canada, all-season tires have a high market share, and season-specific tires are less important. This is in contrast to regulatory requirements in Europe and in severe winter weather provinces in Canada where laws or incentives have led to the market bifurcation between summer tires and winter tires.
The role of fuel economy standards
The most important regulatory driver for all-season tires is the OEM vehicle fuel economy standards. These standards are increasing for vehicle OEMs in the EU, Japan, China and North America. Targets for the EU and Japan in the 2025 time frame are rising to over 60 mpg. Originally, US CAFE standards were scheduled to increase to 54.5 mpg in 2025 for passenger cars and 47 mpg as a fleet average, but the standards have been revised downward to 44 mpg and 47 mpg as a fleet average.
The US vehicle market is moving dramatically toward fewer fuel-efficient SUVs/light trucks, which now make up 55% of light duty vehicle sales, even though the US has fuel economy improvements to make to reach new targets. Because tires contribute directly to vehicle fuel economy, automakers will prioritize low-rolling resistance all-season tires in the US for fuel economy gains. In other regions, higher fuel economy standards will drive toward super low-rolling resistance tires.
Winter tire regulation
Europe leads in winter tire regulation, with Germany’s winter tire mandate leading the way. Other EU countries have their own regulations, but because travel among countries is prolific, most consumers use winter tires. In North America, the US does not have a winter tire regulation, and demand for winter tires is concentrated in the northern states. Only in Quebec, Canada, are strict winter tire requirements mandated.
In Asia, Japan’s winter liability laws have encouraged extensive winter tire adoption, while no regulation exists in China. Winter tires are designated by the Alpine snowflake 3MPSF and M+S designations. Winter tire performance is segmented between Nordic/high snow and ice conditions and more moderate Central European winter conditions.
All-weather tires are a new market development gaining interest in Europe; they have also been introduced in North America. They offer winter tire labelling with the Alpine snowflake 3MPSF and year-round performance. Market potential exists to expand the all-weather/four-season tire category in south Central Europe, the northern US, Japan and eventually China.
Climate patterns over the past 50 years have shown increasing temperatures. This is especially important for the future of winter tires and, to some extent, all-season tires. Increasing temperatures have been significant in northern climates, such as the northern US, where the average temperature has increased over 5° Fahrenheit, putting more cities in moderate winter vs. severe winter climates. The temperature change has generally led to decreases in snowfall and increases in rain; these trends are projected to accelerate over time.
The overall long-term trends mean winter tires will need to focus more on wet grip, grip on black ice films, and wet snow performance around freezing instead of heavy and dry snow with thick ice conditions at temperatures significantly below freezing.
A brochure on the All-Season vs Winter Tires to 2024: A State-of-the-Art Report is available at: https://www.smithers.com/services/market-reports/transportation/all-season-vs-winter-tires-to-2024.
New equipment to measure a tire’s footprint, load deflection, and inflation pressure loss rate has been installed at the Smithers Rapra Tire and Wheel Test Center in Ravenna, Ohio, USA.
Custom made, the footprint and load deflection machine is designed to shorten testing lead times and support clients’ evolving data requirements.
Smithers has announced the promotion of Mike Kelly and the hiring of Jeff Wible to its rubber physical testing laboratory in Akron, Ohio.
Mike Kelly has joined the physical testing team as a project engineer, specializing in dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) testing and new DMA method development.