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Michelin materials, mobility options next

By ZHONG NAN | China Daily | Updated: 2021-06-28 09:06
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A technician of Michelin China demonstrates truck tire maintenance in Yantai, Shandong province. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

With China aiming to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, Michelin Group, a French mobility company, plans to reap big dividends by advancing high-tech materials and hydrogen mobility, as well as by supplying more tires to the country's fast-growing electric vehicle (EV) sector in years 2021-25, the nation's 14th Five-Year Plan period, said a senior executive.

In addition to offering tire products to China's vast market, the French company will deploy more resources in high-tech materials, 3D metal printing, medical devices and hydrogen mobility during 2021-25, said Kamran Vossoughi, president and CEO of Michelin China.

"We will increase investment in hydrogen mobility development, hoping to bring everyone a better life in motion," he said at a recent Customer Experience Day.

By establishing a joint venture with Faurecia in 2019, Michelin has been accelerating the development of new-generation fuel cells, launching mass production and increasing business in China, Europe and the United States.

Compared to traditional fossil fuels, hydrogen is considered a clean and promising vehicle fuel. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, powered by electricity generated by compressed hydrogen fed into fuel cells, has zero greenhouse gas emissions as it produces only water, electricity and heat.

According to a report released by the China Machinery Industry Federation in Beijing in April, China's goals for 2030 and 2060 will push the automobile consumption patterns and industrial structures to transform to electric mode from the policy level.

For instance, Hainan, the scenic island province, has been promoting the use of clean energy vehicles, aiming to completely phase out the sales of conventional fuel-based vehicles by 2030.

"To seize such growth opportunities, Michelin will provide wide-ranging solutions from micro-hybrid to pure electric," said Vossoughi, adding the company has already launched EV tires for both passenger vehicles and city buses to improve EV performance in China.

Since China has remained the world's largest market for EVs for years and will continue to expand rapidly, Swiss financial institution UBS predicted that EV sales are expected to account for 20 percent of total new car sales by the year 2025, and should reach 18 million units throughout China by 2030.

As a global company that has already transformed its business nature from a manufacturing company to a service-oriented manufacturer to better adapt to China's changing market environment, Vossoughi said Michelin, supported by three manufacturing bases in China, will continue to expand its sales channels both online and offline to maintain robust growth in this lucrative market.

"Dealing with carbon emissions requires imaginative solutions. Digital technology needs to be used throughout the whole life cycle of tires to improve energy efficiency," he said.

"We also promote sustainable concepts in the gastronomy industry. Last November, the Michelin Guide Beijing 2021 unveiled the Michelin Green Star for the first time in China, which aims to highlight exemplary establishments at the forefront of a more sustainable approach to gastronomy."

Experts said that digital solutions, green electricity, energy efficiency, new carbon management technologies, strengthened innovation, reduced use of water and energy, waste reduction, and even business diversification are among a host of strategies and measures that foreign and domestic corporates are embracing and employing to bolster China's carbon goals.

According to the country's 14th Five-Year Plan, the energy consumption per unit of GDP and carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP will be reduced by 13.5 percent and 18 percent, respectively, during the period.

China also plans to expand forest coverage to 24.1 percent of China's total land area over the next five years.

Jing Chunmei, a researcher at the Beijing-based China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said that in order to realize the twin goals, what will be required is the development of new technologies to capture and store emissions. That will also help strike a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon, she said.

That is because when technology companies strive for carbon neutrality, they will help businesses first save on energy and reduce emissions themselves, said Sun Fuquan, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development in Beijing.

"But more importantly, this will provide the icing on the clean climate cake by encouraging companies from all sectors to strengthen innovation too," he said.

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