This is an example of Bridgestone's “upside-potential and our ability to create a new replacement segment,” said Ferrari, pointing to Bridgestone's focus on linking R&D work to the needs of the end user.
Another innovation was unveiled at the recent IAA Commercial Vehicles 2016 show, where Bridgestone showcased its Tirematics “connected tire” system that is designed to provide total tire care for fleet managers.
Such developments is now being guided by a Bridgestone concept called “The Boss,” through which the tire maker aims to become more highly focused on delivering value to its customers.
With the development of DriveGuard, for example, this has meant carrying out research to understand more fully what the driver wants, Mr. Ferrari said.
“So, everything around the new product, from the features to the messaging and execution, was based on that input and was then validated with the Boss,” he explained.
The concept, he added, extends to increasing support to Bridgestone's distribution partners and giving them more reasons to grow the Japanese tire maker's brands in the market.
Asked about the impact of the increasing flow of inexpensive tire imports into the European market, the Bridgestone executive said investment in innovation and technology was the best defense.
“We believe that we can respond [to cheap imports] by continuing to develop a compelling overall offering for the end-users… including digitally based solutions,” he added.
But the Bridgestone leader also wants “relevant institutions” to play a more effective role in increasing awareness on the importance of tires in vehicle performance and safety.
This includes the EU tire-labeling scheme, which was introduced in 2012: while appreciating its contribution to consumer's understanding of performance criteria, Ferrari called for further action on implementing the law.
“The current weak point is the limited surveillance being applied by the authorities,” he said. “Consequently, we welcome the recent European initiative for a joint-financed action in tire-label market surveillance.”
Mr. Ferrari went on to note that there was an “opportunity” in the area of retreads, where he said “labeling would highlight the benefits to society through improved sustainability.”
“Ultimately, the more the regulation and the labeling is to the benefit of the consumer and pushes the technology, the better, as then we are happy to bring the right technological solutions to play,” he added
Shahrzad Pourriahi is a reporter with European Rubber Journal, a United Kingdom-based sister publication of Tire Business.