Technology is an amazing field. Even the basic chemistry of tyre technology manages to advance, in small steps, year on year. Take Bridgestone’s new Ecopia EP200, for example. Replacing the previous EP100A, the new design takes the science of tyre design another step forwards. After the key focus criteria of reducing rolling resistance, two other aspects were targeted – wet handling and wet braking. Using Nano Pro Tech which is a buzz word for the highly specialised art of blending silicon compounds with carbon polymers and bonding techniques tuned to improve strength but reduce friction between the molecules. With less friction, there is less heat and that means less wasted energy, resulting in the ability to roll a lot further on a given quantity of fuel. The Bridgestone test engineers recorded a 4,4 per cent improvement over a previous iteration Bridgestone tyre. If one spends R10 000 per year on fuel this means a saving of R440 per year.
We experienced the improvements first hand at Bridgestone’s tyre proving ground near Bangkok in Thailand, where the Japanese company also has a tyre manufacturing plant. Easily identifiable improvements were witnessed when compared with two main competitors producing similar economy orientated tyres. Three automatic Toyota Corollas were fitted with a set of new tyres, one Bridgestone Ecopia-equiped and the other two with competitor’s offerings. After shifting into neutral at 50 km/h at a given point, the Ecopia car rolled to a halt approximately (but consistently) about 50 m further down the track. Wet braking tests showed an improvement of about three metres after emergency stops from 80 km/h showing that ultimate grip was not compromised.
Ecopia tyres are asymmetrical, meaning they have different shapes on the inside and out. This also means that the tyre must be fitted in the correct orientation. These tyres are perfect after-market fitment for cars such as the Toyota Corolla, VW Golf, Ford Focus and up to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, in sizes from 14-inch to 17-inches. Together with the fuel savings, Bridgestone is offering a tyre damage guarantee whereby a damaged tyre will be replaced free of charge except for the value of tread already used . Bridgestone’s primary local outlet is Supaquick.