Where the Rubber Meets the Road – Literally

As the automotive industry is in the midst of a revolution, some of the seemingly minor innovations are easily overlooked. That said, until we figure out how to commercialize a hover-car these vehicles aren’t going anywhere without wheels!

As the number one tire brand in North America , Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company is leading the way in digitizing the tire industry. Their innovations department has fully embraced the notion of the internet of things. In an industry that is largely commoditized, finding ways to stand out and provide greater value is critical. A few key areas of focus have been identified by James Euchner, VP, Global Innovation, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. For a glimpse into his vision, check out his presentation at the IoT conference this summer linked below.




Goodyear is the sole supplier of racing tires for all NASCAR vehicles.

“A simple, often overlooked piece of equipment in the eyes of NASCAR fans, the tire’s importance to stock car auto racing cannot be emphasized enough — especially considering it’s the only part of the vehicle that actually touches the racetrack.”

Goodyear is already using technology to manage and track the tires throughout the supply chain, all the way down to where they’re sitting by the racetrack. This RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) system allows a small chip located on the tire at manufacturing to be used to track that one individual unit all the way to the consumer. Not only does it track location but it also holds info on the specs and batch numbers etc. of that specific tire. In a sport determined by differences of seconds and where people’s lives are at stake, every small detail counts and pit crews are responsible for verifying all of this information and ensuring that they know exactly where the tires are on site at all times.

Taking this digitization of the business one step further, Goodyear is now working on a Smart Tire where they are mounting sensors on the tire itself in order to measure temperature and pressure during use, in addition to tire vibration data that’s used to estimated tread depth. All of the data is fed in real time into the vehicle control system which improves breaking and handling, offering a crucial leg up for drivers.


Commercial Trucking Fleets

In what may even be a more interesting application of this tire sensor technology, Goodyear is looking to roll out these smart tires to commercial trucking fleets. In an effort to improve safety and reduce maintenance costs and downtime, sensors will notify drivers and Goodyear when a tire is about to fail. This allows the driver to make a call about whether or not he or she needs to seek help and when, if they need to pull off the road or not. In addition, this data will be utilized by Goodyear so that they know when tires are about to fail and they can provide a replacement tire and/or maintenance service. In addition, having more information about how and why wear and tear on the tires is happening is useful for product development. Before, all product quality information had to come from the biased lens of drivers, mechanics, or distributors. Now there is hard data to show the way in which the tires are being used so that Goodyear can innovate, coming up with solutions to problems that may not ever have been possible to pinpoint before.

They are taking this data collection one step further by adding data collection systems into the trucks themselves. Measuring driver behavior along seven criteria (including acceleration, braking, etc.) in order to improve safety of drivers and reducing abuse on the machine. Having further and more intimate knowledge of these behaviors adds value to the managers of the fleet and allows Goodyear to see further into the ways in which their products are being used.


Smarter tires, safer world.


Word Count: 618


[1] https://www.goodyear.com

[1] https://www.goodyear.com/en-US/company/nascar/tires

[1] http://www.nascar.com/en_us/sprint-cup-series/nascar-nation/nascar-edu/mobil1-technology-hub/nascar-mobil1-technology-tires.html

[1] https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/using-rfid-inventory-control-stock-security-and-quality-management

[1] http://www.iotevolutionworld.com/smart-transport/articles/424332-iot-time-video-secret-smart-tires-from-goodyear.htm


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Student comments on Where the Rubber Meets the Road – Literally

  1. Alison, thanks for the article. It’s great to see that some innovation is happening with tires for NASCAR and commercial trucking — hopefully the sensors in the tires can prevent accidents and save lives.

    I was particularly interested in your last paragraph regarding Goodyear’s ability to provide driving information to fleet operators. Prior to HBS, I spent some time evaluating a potential investment in a software-as-a-service telematics platform for commercial vehicles. The platform required fleet operators to install a box with GPS and diagnostic functionality into their vehicles, and this box relayed information back to the fleet operators who were then able to track vehicles, handle remote diagnostics, manage maintenance compliance, and track and optimize fuel consumption. There are several major providers in the space, including Omnitracs, Peoplenet, and Teletrac, but only ~30% of commercial fleets use some kind of telematics solution today. [1] Given there are several large companies with a robust set of offerings in the market today, Goodyear might have trouble driving adoption of a driver information solution like the one described in the article. Rather, Goodyear should partner with existing providers to help provide additional vehicle information and further drive adoption in the sector; I believe this partnership would lead to improved safety and more efficient maintenance, and it could ensure Goodyear retains its market-leading position in the tire segment.

    [1] Primary research from target company’s management team.

  2. Alison –

    Very interesting to consider how Goodyear can try to differentiate itself in an increasingly commoditized business. However, similarly to “abcdefg”, I worry about how Goodyear could drive adoption among the commercial driver segment, considering that Goodyear’s business model centers around selling to distributors, who then sell to commercial vehicle owners, rather than the drivers themselves. I actually think Goodyear would have to partner with whichever companies own the commercial vehicles, as these stakeholders will bear the costs and benefits of failed tires.

    Yet, upon some further research, it seems that Goodyear is actually adapting its business model to cut out distributors and go straight to consumers, since it can garner more data on consumer behavior this way. Specifically, Goodyear is pushing people to buy directly from goodyear.com. The questions still remains, however, of whether consumers would actually change their behavior, particularly if they’re commercial drivers.

    [1] http://www.brinknews.com/roadmap-for-navigating-the-frontside-flip-of-tomorrows-digital-supply-chain/

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