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New Bridgestone design goes "retro'

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GENEVA, Switzerland—Bridgestone Corp. is turning back the clock on tire design to achieve lower rolling resistance without compromising other performance criteria.

Bridgestone's latest development in the fuel-efficiency sweepstakes, displayed at the recent Geneva Auto Salon, is the “large and narrow” concept tire, a 155/55R19 designed to operate at higher air pressures.

The Tokyo-based tire maker said the large/narrow design, coupled with the use of the “most appropriate” materials, yields a roughly 30-percent reduction in the rolling-resistance coefficient vs. a more conventional 175/65R15 tire.

Making tires narrower also reduces air resistance, Bridgestone said, a design feature that can play a major factor when working to improve fuel efficiency.

On the performance side, Bridgestone said giving tires a larger vertical diameter and increasing their internal air pressure makes it possible to limit changes in the shape of the contact patch.

Leveraging this design element with pattern technology and compounds designed specifically for use in these tires allows engineers to create tires with both lower rolling resistance and substantially higher levels of wet grip performance, Bridgestone claimed. The tire's narrower, longer footprint helps reduce the pressure placed on the tires by water present on roads. Bridgestone claims an 8-percent improvement in wet grip performance vs. conventional tires.

The company said it plans to put these new design elements into practical use, possibly incorporating them into its Ecopia line of fuel-efficient tires.
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