Bridgestone Showcases Vision for Sustainable Mobility
Does this mean we can stop checking tread wear?
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CES gives companies a chance to showcase their upcoming innovations, and Bridgestone has plenty of announcements for techies and gearheads alike. Bridgestone, one of the world’s most popular tire brands, produced its first tire in 1930 in Japan, where the company is still based. But, as you’ll see, its tire technology has come a long way over the past 90-odd years. There are three key areas to take note of from Bridgestone's announcements at CES 2023: renewable natural rubber, “Smart Corner” digitally connected tires and air springs for EVs, and a digital concierge for personal and fleet vehicle management.
Bridgestone unveiled how it plans to use 40% of recycled and renewable materials by 2030 and increase this to 100% by 2050. The key factor in reducing the brand’s carbon footprint is the use of guayule, a renewable alternative source of natural rubber. The shrub grows in arid regions of the U.S. and Mexico and requires 40% less water than crops such as alfalfa and cotton. Bridgestone has invested more than $100 million in a 281-acre research farm, bio procession pilot plant, and several grower partnerships. Through this investment, the company hopes to plant more than 25,000 acres of guayule before 2030.
In preparation for an EV and autonomous driving future, Bridgestone is working on what it calls a “Smart Corner” solution with its subsidiary Firestone Airide (previously Firestone Industrial Products), and it’s potentially the most exciting announcement. The Smart Corner combines Bridgestone’s Enliten EV Concept Tire with Firestone Airide's Concept EV Air Springs. The parts work together using cloud-connected sensors in the tires and air springs, enabling them to give real-time predictive insights in the hopes that it’ll improve safety, efficiency, and productivity.
Both the Enliten EV Concept Tire and Concept EV Air Spring feature integrated sensors that collect air pressure, temperature, and accelerometer data. In theory, this data will improve driver safety by giving real-time estimations of corner loading, road surface conditions, and the performance capabilities of both the springs and tires. Bridgestone claims that the Enliten EV Concept Tire will reduce rolling resistance, meet the demands for higher loads associated with EVS, and increase battery range.
The Airide Concept EV Air Springs are designed to improve efficiency and ride quality. Since the spring is digitally connected and uses active suspension systems, it can adapt to dynamic loads. Firestone Airide claims this will help isolate noise, reduce vibration, and improve efficiency, which should come as a welcome benefit to EV drivers.
The Smart Corner solution isn’t only about improving the safety and performance of EVs, as it should be better for the environment too. Bridgestone claims that the data from the built-in sensors will maximize tire lifespan, which falls in line with its goal of delivering improved sustainability. Smart Corner can also anticipate some of your vehicle’s needs. For example, before you need to change your tires or springs, the system will alert you and can connect you to a service provider.
Bridgestone Fleet Care should be a welcome technological advance for fleet service providers, particularly autonomous ones. The system combines data from sensors in the tires with onboard vehicle systems to automate vehicle maintenance. The data will be used to show the status of a vehicle's needs in advance and can provide service options. Bridgestone likens this to a digital concierge service, and users of the fleet care solution will be connected to a network of company-owned, independent, and mobile service providers.
Anyone who chooses to service their vehicle using one of the Fleet Care maintenance providers can opt for a single payment option or enroll in a vehicle maintenance subscription service. Although Fleet Care will be most beneficial to fleet service providers, it’ll also be available to family fleets and those who use just one vehicle.
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