Self-driving cars have been a sign of the future for decades, but the time for these vehicles to hit the road is approaching quickly. The rise of autonomous vehicles will impact the tire industry, but not without the innovation and cooperation of industry leaders.

Are you ready for more self-driving cars on the road? Take a look at some of the likely changes that are coming with autonomous vehicles and how the tire industry can prepare for the technological shift. 

Different Cars, Different Requirements 

In many ways, autonomous cars are not the same as the vehicles we see on the road today. As such, tire manufacturers will have to adjust to the new requirements they bring.

For one, autonomous vehicles are generally heavier than current cars on the road. This extra weight puts additional pressure on tires. The tires used on Tesla vehicles, for example, come with a whole set of special features that work with the autonomous vehicle to keep it rolling safely and quietly. One of those features is acoustic sealing, which is designed to dampen noise. Several companies are also designing microchips to be placed in the tires that will collect all kinds of helpful information — from road conditions to letting riders know when tires need maintenance.

Eventually, this could become an entirely separate segment of tires such as UHP or mud terrain tires. However, with the likely arrival of autonomous fleets, there’s a huge chance that “autonomous vehicle” tires are going to sell in much bigger numbers. 

When customers with self-driving cars come to your shop, you’ll need to educate them on the differences between traditional tires and the ones they’ll need for their new cars. You’ll build trust while also keeping everyone on the road safe.

As tire design adapts to this new group of vehicles, customers will also have to learn new rules of tire maintenance. Train your staff on what the changes in tire designs mean for everyday drivers and what your customers need to do to maintain their tires. 

More Sustainable Materials on the Road

The design of new tires will also be affected by the materials used to make them. More autonomous vehicles will probably mean more electric vehicles. Green products are already on everyone’s minds, but as more customers start to understand the impact of electric cars, demand for sustainable tires may also increase. 

Learn about the “green” tires on the market and how customers can use them to reduce their carbon footprints. Your staff should also be prepared to explain how proper tire maintenance can affect a tire’s life span. The longer a tire can stay on a car, the less time it will spend in a landfill.

More Bulk Buying from Larger Fleets

Your customer base may shift with the rise in self-driving vehicles. Many experts predict that the rise in self-driving vehicles with correlate with a rise in fleets of vehicles that offer taxi services, delivery services, and more. If it happens, it will shake up the tire business.

While individual drivers may not understand tire maintenance, fleets will. Business owners are more likely to spot signs of wear and tear and call for tire replacements when they are due. Additionally, retailers could potentially see a rise in sales to fleets which means they may also see an increase in how many tires are sold at one time. Businesses usually purchase more than two or four tires at at time, so bulk buys for an entire fleet promise to generate more revenue than selling individual tires to individual customers. 

In order to keep this partnership profitable, the tire industry can respond by introducing technology that benefits fleets. For example, RFID technology automatically tracks things like tire pressure and temperature for every tire and sends the information to a central database. This reduces the need for more expensive manual monitoring and helps fleets better maintain their tires. As tire manufacturers pays more attention to fleets, they should consider integrating RFID technology and other innovations that benefit their clients. 

Self-Driving Cars are Headed Your Shop’s Way — Are You Ready?

Self-driving vehicles pose exciting opportunities for growth, but only if you stay on top of industry trends and shifts. Stay informed and communicate with your staff to ensure that your customers will get the best products and service from your business. 

Mariam Zafar

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