10 Million & Counting: Bridgestone Reaches Run-Flat Milestone
In August 2006 Bridgestone celebrated the delivery of five million run-flat tyres over the course of two decades; a mere twenty months later the company doubled this figure. On June 4 Bridgestone announced that it passed the ten million mark during April 2008.
Bridgestone says it recognises run-flat tyres as strategic products. The company also points to their environmental benefits, such as fuel economy through vehicle weight saving and reducing rubber consumption and scrap, and thus the company plans to further permeate and expand its run-flat market.
The first Bridgestone run-flat tyres were delivered in the early 1980s, the initial products being tyres fitted to specially manufactured vehicles for physically disabled persons. The first run-flats for a production vehicle model, the Porsche 959, were delivered in 1987. Bridgestone’s run-flat production has accelerated since 1999 as automakers have adopted run-flat specifications on a growing range of vehicle models, reflecting a changing environment surrounding motoring lifestyles. Currently the company produces run-flat tyres at six plants in four countries worldwide – Japan, the United States, Poland and South Africa.
Two types of run-flat systems are currently in production, Bridgestone adds. Tyre number 10 million was of the self supporting variety, a design featuring reinforced sidewalls to support the weight of the vehicle even after a loss of tyre pressure. The other variant, the support ring-type run-flat system, features a core ring that supports the vehicle in case of air loss by fixing the tyre bead on the rim.