Committed to evolve
Khaled Arafa, general manager, Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company's Middle East and Africa cluster, speaks about his leadership experience and the brand's innovative journey.
Khaled Arafa, general manager at Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company's Middle East and Africa cluster, has over 24 years of experience in key leadership roles within the tyre industry across Europe, the Middle East and African geographies.
Arafa joined Goodyear in 2008 as the commercial manager of GCC market, and in 2010, he took over the role of general sales director for the MENA region. In January 2014, he was assigned bigger responsibilities and was moved to Sweden as director of the commercial product business unit for Nordic countries and led the operations of the truck and OTR tyre distribution for the entire region. He also managed the fleet online solution (FOS) operation along with the launch of the UG-MAX winter truck tyre lineup.
In 2016, Arafa returned to the Middle East and Africa organisation as director of consumer PBU. In his most recent role before assuming the responsibility as general manager, he was managing the OTR business in emerging markets.
Speaking about his journey in Goodyear, Arafa takes us through the innovations the brand has achieved over the years and technologies that they plan to bring in, keeping in mind the golden rule of sustainability.
The concept of innovation has evolved in the UAE, especially in the mobility space. How has it evolved with a global brand like Goodyear?
At Goodyear, innovation isn't just what we do; it's part of who we are. Since 1898, we have succeeded in our commitment to innovate and improve continuously. We are proud to share these similarities with the UAE, known for its pioneering spirit and focus on innovation.
We take pleasure in being a business built on firsts. Over 120 years of invention, we've developed the first tubeless tyres, established the land speed record at 600 mph, and been the first tyres on the moon.
The fast-moving, digital world we live in today means our culture of innovation remains critical. Goodyear research engineers and scientists are at the forefront of rubber and polymer science and other fields, including computing, physics, and mathematics. We invest in technologies such as driving simulators to test new products before prototyping them, speeding up the time from concept to release.
We fast-track what we do best - developing brilliant new tyre technologies for the needs of today's drivers with a dedicated focus on the future as a technology-driven mobility company.
Our most recent innovative examples include the non-pneumatic tire (NPT), developed keeping in mind the comfort of the passenger and also in line with our vision of a sustainable future. Often called an airless tyre, it has three components - the shear band (including the tread), connecting web, and the wheel. As we move into a world where autonomous vehicles are becoming more common and many cities are offering transport-as-a-service (TaaS) strategies, having a maintenance-free tyre is hugely important. When a tyre has air pressure, it has no back-ups in the case of an autonomous vehicle. If you were to get a rapid loss of air or have an integrity issue with the tyre, the vehicle stops immediately and doesn't work. A non-pneumatic tyre, however, does have these fail-safes. Because of the connecting web structure, the tire can still operate normally, even if something happens to it. With traditional car ownership, shared mobility services and autonomous vehicles are potentially sharing the road. Airless tyres can increase uptime, performance, and comfort.
Goodyear’s long history of engineering and manufacturing high-quality tyres and services provides a platform for innovation in a rapidly evolving industry. Our innovative spirit and drive for excellence put us at the centre of the mobility revolution, and we take this role very seriously. We work closely with our customers and other innovators to shape this transformation. We are excited about the future of mobility and where it will take us.
What is the biggest shift that you have observed lately among Middle East consumers?
There are two major trends. Firstly, there is a trend towards being more environmentally conscious about the way they live and consume. According to a report by PWC, 65 per cent of Middle East consumers have become more eco-friendly during the pandemic.
Next, we also see that digitalisation continues to play an even bigger part, not only in people's lives but also in the way business is conducted. For example, the digital economy is driving demand for faster, reliable, and lower-cost delivery options from the transport and logistics sectors. Across the Middle East and Africa, Goodyear is experiencing an uplift in fleets looking to deploy smart technologies and integrated solutions to simplify daily operations and manage these demands.
Goodyear supports its fleet customers through its offering, Goodyear Total Mobility, where we work closely with each customer to tailor a solution for their specific needs. Our range of solutions offers Fleet managers the data and analytics they need to make the best decisions for their fleets, including fuel consumption, maintenance requirements, and driver behaviour.
Goodyear has been focusing on developing 100 per cent sustainable-material tyres by 2030, going a step further with its sustainability goals. What impact will it have on the future automotive industry?
I am very proud to say that just recently we announced a tyre that is made with soybean oil in the US, which will head into production in Q3 of this year.
The use of soybean oil in tyres is a significant Goodyear innovation that helps keep a tyre’s rubber compound pliable in changing temperatures. Soybean oil is a bio-based resource that reduces our use of petroleum-based products. While nearly 100 per cent of soy protein is used in food/animal feed applications, a significant surplus of oil is left over and available for use in industrial applications.
At Goodyear, we believe that sustainability needs to be present throughout the supply chain. As such, sustainable sourcing is our approach to responsibly managing the materials we use for our operations and products. In our relentless pursuit of forwarding motion, Goodyear is continuously improving product quality and developing new innovative technologies in addition to building a better future for the world around us.
We are excited to hear more about your initiatives around climate change, reducing carbon footprint etc. Can you shed some light on this?
Corporate responsibility framework - Goodyear's Better Future is an integral part of our business strategy, and working responsibly is a key part of all we do. We announced last year our goal to reach net-zero value chain greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, aligned with the science-based targets initiative (SBTi) and its new net-zero standard. To ensure that we are on the right track, Goodyear will submit its 2030 and 2050 targets to SBTi for independent validation. Richard J Kramer, our chairman, CEO and president, sums it up well.
"As one of the world's largest tyre manufacturers, we are trying to implement transformative changes that will help protect our planet for future generations and build a more sustainable business for all of our stakeholders."
We are matching our promises with real action. Last year, we announced the adoption of 100 per cent renewable energy in the first of a multiple-phase plan to procure 100 per cent renewable energy at our facilities across Europe and Turkey by the end of 2022. In doing this, Goodyear will reduce operational impacts and take further steps to reduce carbon emissions intensity by 25 per cent by 2023 versus a 2010 baseline. We have already made good progress, achieving a 19 per cent intensity reduction in 2020. Using 2019 as a base year, Goodyear is committed to reducing its scope 1 and 2 emissions by 46 per cent by 2030 and relevant scope 3 emissions by 28 per cent over the same time frame.
Other initiatives include ensuring electricity has been produced from renewable energy sources, Goodyear procures GoOs (guarantee of origin), which provide information to electricity customers on the source of their energy. By the end of 2022, we will have purchased 700,000 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity in 2022, ensuring Goodyear can operate on sustainably sourced electricity in our manufacturing plants in Europe and Turkey. This shift will reduce the company's carbon footprint by up to 260,000 tonnes. And right here in the UAE, our Goodyear office is based in Dubai Silicon Oasis, which is LEED Platinum certified.
UAE is pushing its innovation boundaries with autonomous vehicles, hybrid fuels, EVs and a lot more. What are your thoughts on this innovation-led transformative change that is set to take place?
Our world is changing; cities are becoming smarter, people are moving differently, and everyone is thinking more about the environmental impact of the way they live. At Goodyear, we are excited about the future of mobility.
Advanced forms of mobility, such as fleets, autonomous, connected, and electric vehicles are already transforming the tire industry and have the potential to make driving safer and more sustainable. Goodyear is positioned for success through our commitments to advanced energy efficiency, safety, tire longevity, comfort and convenience and several digital-based solution offerings.
Concept tyres are the basis for our research and development teams to engage with future mobility challenges and develop new, groundbreaking products and services. We partner with automotive manufacturers to develop tyres for their future vehicles and unique mobility projects.
In addition to the NPTs, our futuristic concept tyres include the 'Goodyear AERO', a two-in-one tyre designed for autonomous, flying cars of the future. This concept would work as a tyre for driving on the road and a 'propeller' for flight through the sky. Our 'Oxygene tyre' has a unique structure featuring living moss growing within the sidewall. The open structure and tyre’s smart-tread design absorb and circulate moisture and water from the road surface, allowing photosynthesis to occur and release oxygen into the air. This concept brings the future of mobility to life as a visionary solution for cleaner, safer, and more sustainable urban mobility.
What's Goodyear's vision for the future? Where do you want to be in the next 10 years?
Goodyear's innovative spirit and drive for excellence put us at the epicentre of the mobility revolution. To articulate Goodyear's role in the future of mobility, we have six bold goals focused on developing great products and services that anticipate and respond to the needs of consumers and customers. These goals are aspirational yet attainable, with milestones attached, providing our employees, partners, and customers with a long-term vision to enable mobility well into the future.
We are investing in the technologies and experiences that will propel the mobility revolution forward. In 2020, we furthered our commitment to building the future of mobility through Goodyear Ventures, a $100M fund dedicated to accelerating future solutions, helping to increase sustainability and making life's connections easier.
Goodyear Ventures has quickly built a portfolio of future-looking technology companies disrupting mobility through autonomy and electrification. Goodyear Ventures has partnered with 'Starship Technologies' which is revolutionising deliveries with self-driving robots, 'ampUp' an electric vehicle software company enabling stress-free charging as well as 'Autofleet' the leading vehicle as a service platform for fleets. Goodyear's innovative technology and new venture groups are constantly exploring technological advancements that will better serve our customers' current and future needs and reshape the future of mobility.