BRUSSELS (Jan. 14, 2014) — Germany's BMW A.G. has selected Bridgestone Corp. as the exclusive tire development partner for its i3 electric vehicle, a partnership that will focus on Bridgestone's "ologic" larger-diameter/narrower tread concept.
The BMW i3 is a relatively short (157 inches) and tall (62 inches) four-passenger city car that offers surprising interior space because of the flat floor and lack of a center transmission tunnel, according to BMW. It weighs in at 2,630 pounds and derives power from a 22 kWh Li-ion battery pack, which yields a 7-second 0-60 mph acceleration.
The car rides on 155/70R19 84Q Bridgestone Ecopia EP500 tires as standard equipment, although Bridgestone and BMW offer three other sizes — 175/60R19 86Q, 155/60R20 80Q and 175/55R20 85Q, along with and two winter varieties, the Blizzak LM-500 and NV, the latter a studless tire with Bridgestone's "Multicell" rubber compound.
Bridgestone said combining a large diameter with a narrow tread pattern has several advantages, including lower rolling resistance and reduced aerodynamic drag. The tire maker explained the rolling resistance advantage comes from higher belt tension, which reduces tire deformation.
Commenting on the development, Franco Annunziato, CEO and president of Bridgestone Europe, said the BMW i3 "is very much a car for the future. Developing a unique tire for this unique vehicle was therefore an enormously challenging but also rewarding experience.
"Energy efficiency is an important development criteria for all our tires…. However, it becomes an even more critical factor in an electric car, which is why we have put all our know-how, skill and passion into developing this unique tire concept."
Bridgestone has been an OE supplier to BMW for the past 17 years.