Michelin intends to convert its global tire-making operations to a greener business in the next three decades, with a major environment initiative: All of its tires will be manufactured using 80 percent sustainable materials by the year 2048.
That will require a significant transformation in the company's production systems, design and supply chains, Alexis Garcin, chairman of Michelin North America, told Automotive News, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe.
The French company believes it already knows most of the materials and processes it needs to get the job done. But 100 percent sustainable materials? That is still a quest to be determined, Garcin said.
"We don't know today how to get completely to 100 percent," he said. "We need time because we think the innovation and technology is not ready to support that. We still have some unknowns.
"But we have part of that answer. We know there will be 20 percent that will have difficulties, which is why we say 80 percent. And in the next 10 years we will know whether we are on the right track," Garcin said.
Michelin has been pursuing greener tires since the early 1990s, when it introduced its first low rolling-resistance tire, a product designed to help boost fuel economy by reducing road friction.