Current and future Bridgestone technology on show in Geneva
In addition to presenting its newest premium touring tyre at the motor show in Geneva, Bridgestone showed off two new technologies currently in development – one of which is currently being prepared for evaluation in the market. During the show, Tyres & Accessories spoke with Gert Meylemans, senior manager of the Bridgestone Europe EU Coms office, and Wilfried Rulands, marketing & communications manager at Bridgestone Germany about the tyre maker’s innovations and what is planned for them.
Bridgestone’s tyre printing technology was prominently displayed on Bridgestone’s stand in Geneva. A Toyota Aygo fitted with standard Bridgestone tyres was surrounded by tyres featuring the printing technology; these gave a taste of the artistic opportunities the technology offers. “We have received a lot of interest in the printing technology,” Wilfried Rulands told T&A. “We will definitely market this, although a launch date has yet to be decided.” Gert Meylemans recapped the technology involved (covered in greater technology by tyrepress.com here), describing its use of ink covered by a protective application, and pointed out that the sidewall rubber in tyres suited to the printing technology differs from that on standard tyres; therefore, replacement market customers must purchase specific tyres with an eye to adding their own design, company logo or pattern. He added that tests conducted on tyres show the printing can last around two years.
“Bridgestone is looking at niche markets to test launch,” Meylemans added. “During this trial will evaluate the tyre itself and also its consumer appeal. We will focus on the replacement market and work through pilot dealers.” Meylemans said that pricing for the printing application has yet to be determined.
The other new technology Bridgestone brought to Geneva was its airless tyre, and Rulands commented that interest has also been high in this product. Unlike the printing technology, Bridgestone is not yet ready to trial its airless tyre in the market. “With the airless tyre we want to show what is possible. It’s a whole new concept and uses recycled materials,” he explained. “This concept will be further developed but we don’t know when it will be commercially available – I have heard that it will be within the next four to five years but this is by no means certain.”
Alongside these two still-developing technologies, Bridgestone displayed its latest commercially available product, the Turanza T001 touring tyre. Rulands said the new tyre will gradually replace the Turanza ER300 and is suited to a wide range of vehicles, from compact cars up to large, premium saloons. This year a total of 40 sizes for 15 to 18-inch rims will be released in Europe, and a further 37 sizes are planned for January 2013.
“The new Bridgestone Turanza T001 meets today’s most important requirements for a tyre: safety and motoring efficiency,” stated Tomio Fukuzumi, director consumer products, Bridgestone Europe. “The objective is to achieve total harmony, delivering driving pleasure.”
The Turanza T001 tread pattern and high silica content top-tread compound are designed to provide the highest levels of safety and handling control in all conditions, Bridgestone says. High-stiffness lateral and longitudinal shoulder blocks produce optimum road contact, for maximum braking force and handling performance. The asymmetric multi-rib tread design features wide water-evacuation grooves, which the tyre maker says ensures high resistance to aquaplaning. Compared to its predecessor, the Bridgestone Turanza T001 provides two per cent shorter braking distances in the wet.
Bridgestone says its engineers have optimised the Bridgestone Turanza T001 casing shape and construction for the best possible balance between handling and ride comfort. This comfort is enhanced by the development of a noise-reduction groove that cuts pattern pass-by noise by one decibel compared to the Bridgestone Turanza ER300, which is already in full compliance with planned 2016 noise legislation.
Incorporating Bridgestone’s patented NanoPro-Tech compound, the Turanza T001 is promoted by the Japanese tyre maker as striking the “perfect balance between low rolling resistance and outstanding wet-weather performance.” The interaction between polymers, filler material and other rubber components used in the construction of the tyre is controlled right down to the nano scale, Bridgestone explains: it says the result is a “consistent compound which minimises friction between carbon molecules, thereby reducing excess heat production and improving both rolling resistance and fuel consumption.”
Combined with a lighter weight construction and the optimized, deformation-reducing casing shape, NanoPro-Tech technology is said to help the Turanza T001 achieve a 19 per cent improvement in rolling resistance, a figure that represents a 2.3 per cent improvement in fuel economy. The tyre’s flat contact profile facilitates more uniform wear; Bridgestone says it increases tyre life by 15 per cent.