How will this play out?
No crystal ball. It depends on demand and on how the industry is able to balance the capacity which exists and make the best use of it. Are consumer electronics growing? Home office appliances, as we know, have increased strongly due to the pandemic, and you see that in other areas. Vehicle content is moving upward. This situation has to be seen not just as a supply issue, but also as a demand issue.
Continental's new GreenConcept tire is made partly from renewable or recycled materials, such as plastic bottles, dandelions and vegetable oils. How close to production-ready are such tires?
The good news is everything we showed can be produced. What has to be done now is to industrialize it all on a level that you can use it in mass production. Some of those technologies are already there.
Using plastic bottles and making polyester out of that, and replacing traditional polyester yarn — this will go into production basically as we speak, to a certain amount, because we have to see how many plastic bottles we can generate and reuse. Same for recycled materials, which we are already using in tires.
When it comes to dandelions, we still need to grow more in order for it to be as efficient as the natural rubber that is getting produced. That is a longer-term project. We are talking, there, five to 10 years in order to get this into a sizable amount.
However, as we go, everything we can do to increase the percentage of renewable or recycled material, we will do. So the content in the tire of those materials is growing over time. We want to be at 100 percent by 2050, so it is a journey.