On 4th June, Volkswagen and Bridgestone wrote their names in the record books. On custom-developed Bridgestone Potenza tyres, the ID.R, Volkswagen’s first fully electric racing car, completed the Nürburgring(DL1) , the 20.83-kilometre long iconic German racetrack, in 6:05.336 minutes. Beating the track’s previous all-electric lap record by 40.56 seconds, the time sent shockwaves through the motorsport world.
But this achievement has an impact far beyond the racetrack. For Bridgestone, the project gave a far better understanding of the specific tyre challenges of electric vehicles (EVs) in general – not just in motorsport. Subsequently, we’re applying this newfound knowledge to our ongoing EV tyre development, to help better serve what is a rapidly growing market.
It should come as no great surprise that the automotive industry has high hopes for EVs. Climate change and dwindling natural resources are ever growing concerns and, as a result, developing more sustainable mobility solutions is arguably one of the industry’s biggest priority.
But it’s also about doing the right thing. We have a responsibility to improve the ways people move, live, work, and play. Our CSR strategy, ‘Our Way to Serve’, which guides everything we do as a business, states accelerating sustainable mobility, and ensuring a healthy environment by cutting the CO2 emissions of our business and customers, as two of our core priorities. Bridgestone, like many of our fellow players in the mobility space, believes that electric is one of the promising options to transform those responsibilities into achievements.
That’s why, as part of our industry-leading R&D spend, Bridgestone has committed resources to better our EV knowledge and capabilities. Engineering tyres for EVs isn’t a case of adapting our traditional combustion engine tyres to fit – EVs have a different set of priorities that we must consider. From ultra-low rolling resistant, lighter tyres to prevent unnecessary battery drain, to less tyre noise because of the EV’s silent engine, the rise of electric has forced us to rethink tyre development.
Back when electric vehicles were in their infancy, BMW launched its revolutionary all-electric i3 but desperately needed a tyre fitment that could improve its battery efficiency. We responded with ‘ologic technology’, our proprietary technology designed specifically for electric vehicles. ologic technology enhances fuel efficiency through two features: a large tyre diameter to reduce tyre contact with the road and consequently reduce rolling resistance, and a narrow tyre width to reduce aero-dynamic resistance. Our ologic technology has also been recognised at BMW’s Supplier Innovation Awards in the ‘Efficient Dynamics’ category.
ologic technology began Bridgestone’s EV journey. Since it was first developed we’ve gone on to supply tyres for many EVs, from BMW’s i3s, to Audi’s first all-electric SUV, the e-tron, as well as for those racing in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge; a 3,000km race across the Australian Outback that pushes the limits of technological innovation and solar-powered mobility.
As EVs grow in demand and consequently number, the design of these vehicles has become increasingly varied. At Bridgestone we’ll always work to deliver the best vehcile performance, which means that a broadening EV market requires a wider set of EV-specific solutions to fit. That’s why we’re pioneering various new technologies specifically for EVs, as part of Bridgestone vision for the tyre of the future.
We know that EV tyres have to be quieter, so, in our Noise Lab, where we analyse the noise levels of each new tyre, we’ve developed our proprietary B-Silent technology to minimise in-vehicle noise on all road surfaces and, consequently, increase comfort for the driver. We also know that EV tyres must be lighter to conserve battery life. So, we developed our Enliten technology, which is an innovative lightweight tyre alternative that reduces rolling resistance by, on average, 20 percent from a standard premium summer touring OE fitment, and weight by 10 percent, which also means that less material resources are used in manufacturing.1
Bridgestone is not only committed to the electric future; we’re committed to bringing it to the present as soon as possible. But achieving this definitely isn’t something we can do alone. Industry-wide collaboration, combining all the brilliant expertise we have at our disposal, like we recently showed with Volkswagen, is what’s required. Only then will we deliver the electric future we’re all dreaming of.
1 Based on Bridgestone internal tests according to ISO28580 procedure considering Bridgestone Turanza T005 205/55R16 91H and Bridgestone Turanza T005 255/40R20 101W.