On 4th June 2019, 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, 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 had and continues to have 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.
Accelerating sustainable mobility
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 resistance, 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.
Improving efficiency and pushing boundaries
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.
Pioneering EV-specific solutions
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 vehicle 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, because there is no loud internal combustion engine, EV tyres must 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 environmentally friendly ENLITEN Technology, which reduces rolling resistance by up to 30 percent from a standard premium summer tyre.1 This contributes, in a combustion engine vehicle, to a reduction of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, and significantly extends battery life in an electric vehicle. In addition, tyres with ENLITEN Technology enable further fuel/battery conservation by being reduced in weight by up to 20 percent from equivalent standard premium summer tyres.1 This equates to up to 2kg fewer raw material resources required to produce every tyre, another environmental benefit from both a resources and final end-of-life stage management standpoint.
On top of that are ENLITEN Technology’s performance benefits. The synergy between the unique materials used to create ENLITEN Technology and a new mixing process has enhanced the technology’s compound wear performance, without compromising on grip. This, combined with a cavity and full 3D pattern design that maximises wet and wear performance, means that ENLITEN Technology improves the vehicle’s handling to help increase driving pleasure.
In 2020, we’ve brought the benefits of ENLITEN Technology to the roads for the first time on Volkswagen’s first all-electric ID.3 vehicle. Our long-term partner, Volkswagen, sought a tyre fitment that offered a high level of performance in both the wet and dry, good braking, long tyre life, and, most importantly, super low rolling resistance. So, we custom developed ENLITEN Technology on Turanza Eco tyres for the ID.3 to help meet all of Volkswagen’s performance targets.
Collaboration is key to an electric future
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 and co-creation, 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.
1Based on Bridgestone internal data comparing Bridgestone premium summer tyres with and without ENLITEN Technology in the same tyre size (92Y 225/40R18 XL).
At any point in time, people imagine what the future will look like and what innovations will change our lives — and Bridgestone does, too. There’s no better place to share our vision on the future of mobility than at CES 2021, the first virtual edition of the world's most influential tech event.
Despite the challenges of 2020, we’re beginning the end of the year with a milestone moment on our sustainability journey…