If demand for tires keeps rising and raw material shortages persist, you may be driving soon on flowers and beans.
With more and more cars on the road everywhere from Beijing to Boston, tire manufacturers have been hard-pressed to overcome nagging shortages compounded by factory capacity problems, rising material costs and limited availability of natural rubber.
That’s leading manufacturers like Bridgestone and Goodyear on a search for alternative materials as diverse as soybeans and Russian dandelions.
“Natural rubber is a sustainable, renewable resource, but the problem is that the industry is growing so rapidly — building 82 million cars a year now — that keeping up is a problem,” said Michael Martini, president, original equipment tire sales, for Bridgestone Americas. “So we’re looking for alternatives.”