Text: Vince Pornelos / Photos: Vince Pornelos | posted December 02, 2013 18:04
Drive confident, drive longer and drive more road
When you hear the word 'Bridgestone', what usually comes to mind?
Generally speaking, you'll probably think of high performance tires made for sports cars, performance sedans and off-road behemoths as Bridgestone has been at the forefront of motorsport and performance enthusiasts, culminating with their extensive experience as the sole Formula One tire from 2006 to 2010.
The world, however, is changing. Private customers and fleet owners are demanding more savings and a better ecological footprint, and the best and most immediate way to achieve that is through fuel economy. The formula is simple: drive more with less fuel costs.
At the head of this development is Bridgestone with their Ecopia line because after all, savings begin where the rubber meets the road.
The evolution of Ecopia
The Ecopia line actually stretches back to 1991, when Bridgestone was tasked to develop a line of specialized eco friendly tires for a range of Japanese electric vehicles. The task was to develop tires that were designed to save fuel and money through lower rolling resistance without sacrificing handling and safety.
Over time, the original Bridgestone eco-tire formula has evolved into a line up that exceeds its electric vehicle beginnings. Today's Ecopia has found its way onto all kinds of cars from daily driven subcompacts and compacts, executive cars as well as larger SUVs and crossover utility vehicles, demonstrating the versatility of the Bridgestone Ecopia brand.
Tested to its limits around the world
Bridgestone dedicates a significant amount of their resources to ensuring that their tires continue to be leaders when they roll out into the market.
With 'Serving society with superior quality' as the mission of the Bridgestone group, the company is dedicated to delivering products to consumers that showcase the very best of their research and development team. And it shows with Ecopia.
The company tests various prototypes based on different tread patterns to achieve a balance of fuel economy, comfort, safety and confident handling and stability. Bridgestone strives to develop eco-friendly tires that will help conserve resources, minimize global warming and pollution through the use of advanced technology.
All Ecopia models are tested at various Bridgestone proving grounds around the world from Japan, Europe, the Americas and Asia. The diversity of the locations as well as the varying weather conditions, temperatures, road qualities and other aspects of globally strategic test facilities ensure the effective and reliable development of tire models in each region.
Today's Bridgestone Ecopia models for the ASEAN market consists of the Ecopia EP150 for small cars, Ecopia EP200 for midsize cars and Ecopia EP850 for crossovers and SUVs.
The science of tread and rubber
Recognizing the need for eco friendly tires for a changing world, Bridgestone worked to develop compounds that sought the ever challenging balance between low rolling resistance (for increased fuel efficiency) and handling confidence (for safety), two aspects of tires that are at very opposite ends of the same spectrum.
For the Ecopia line, Bridgestone applies their proprietary Ecopia Compound technology that utilizes advanced silica for reduced rolling resistance in the Ecopia EP150 and Ecopia EP850. The more premium EP200 was developed using the more advanced Ecopia Compound II and Nano Pro-Tech for even lower rolling resistance, enabling you to drive more roads. The compound in the larger EP850 has lowered its rolling resistance by almost 20% when compared to the model it replaced.
In tests conducted by independent agencies, the Ecopia EP150 provided up to 4.3% in fuel savings, along with 3.9% for EP850 equipped SUVs. The biggest gains are with cars fitted with the Ecopia EP200, as it yielded 8.1% in improved fuel economy. Of course with fuel savings comes reduced fuel emissions at 7.1%, 11.1% and 3.0% in the EP150, EP200 and EP850, respectively.
Not content with their advancements in rubber compound technology, Bridgestone Asia Pacific will continue development and expansion of the Ecopia line to meet the needs of more customers in the region.
The development of the compounds for fuel efficiency involves making the car more friendly towards rolling with less friction, but that would have the effect of reducing the drive capability and handling of the car, two aspects of a tire that are at opposite ends of the same scale.
To enhance handling while maintaining the fuel efficient nature of the rubber, Bridgestone makes use of advanced tread patterns that optimize load, heat, grip and stability.
In the EP150, Bridgestone worked to develop a cost effective tire using weight optimization and a rib-linked block tread pattern to achieve improved handling and driveability.
In the EP200, Bridgestone used more of their latest technologies such as leaf shaped blocks, high angle lug grooves and a reversed Z-shaped design for enhanced handling. On top of those patterns, Bridgestone engineered the EP200 to have a stiffer inner sidewall for even better straight line stability.
Bridgestone also uses a combination of the technologies to achieve the same effects on the larger EP850, the company's dedicated eco tire for SUVs and crossovers. The EP850 is superior to Bridgestone's Dueler D683 in every way, featuring improved handling, braking, comfort, noise levels, durability and tread life.
In a test at Bridgestone's Thailand Proving Grounds, all three Ecopia tire models demonstrated their characteristics without compromise, showcasing the technology and development that Bridgestone has put into their eco friendly rubber.
Engineering tires for economy also means enhancing its life cycle on your car. With optimized weight distribution and load carrying, Bridgestone has developed ways to lengthen Ecopia's resistance to wear and tear.
At Bridgestone proving grounds around the world, their regional research and development teams work tirelessly (no pun intended) to optimize the rubber to the region based on weather, ambient temperatures, load requirements and, most importantly, the kind of roads that their customers would encounter. Bridgestone has tested the Ecopia to withstand the requirements of ASEAN customers driving on rougher, bumpier ASEAN roads.
Drive more roads
With a new line of Ecopia tires, Bridgestone is working for a more eco-friendly and a more cost-effective future. Designed for daily drivers who demand nothing less than the lowest fuel consumption, Ecopia is now available for a diverse set of applications and vehicles so that you, the consumer, can drive more and pay less at the pump.