Bridgestone launches solar electric vehicle tyres

Bridgestone has announced an exclusive partnership with Netherlands-based mobility innovator Lightyear, engineering tyres specifically for Lightyear One, the world’s first long-range solar electric vehicle, which is set for commercial availability by the end of this year.

Recent Bridgestone research shows 50 percent of European drivers would consider acquiring a fully electric vehicle, yet 37 per cent are skeptical about efficiency and limited range.

The company said Lightyear One addresses these concerns by offering an unprecedented range of 725km, while being up to three times more energy-efficient versus alternative electric vehicles. The vehicle is charged directly by the Sun through a large solar roof, minimising CO2 emissions while maximising efficiency.

To achieve such performance, Bridgestone said Lightyear has designed a vehicle with the best aerodynamic coefficient of any production car to date through substantial gains in many different areas of vehicle design. To support this unique performance and further improve on efficiency, Lightyear sought a tyre that offered very low rolling resistance and weight reduction to preserve battery life, maximise vehicle range, and reduce environmental impact.

Bridgestone developed custom-engineered Turanza Eco tyres for Lightyear One, combining its lightweight ENLITEN and ologic technologies for the first time. The technologies reduce weight through the use of fewer raw materials throughout the manufacturing process, while cutting rolling resistance through innovative tread, larger diameters, high inflation pressures and slim design.

The very low rolling resistance of the tyres also means Lightyear One can benefit from a lighter battery. Bridgestone said Turanza Eco tyres are designed to boost range compared to alternative Bridgestone EV-specific tyres, equivalent to more than a 90kg reduction in weight. In addition to helping Lightyear One to travel further between charges, the tyre’s silica dispersion has been improved by applying a new mixing technology, offering a 3.6kg (around 10 per cent) overall reduction in the tyre’s weight per vehicle without any compromise on wear mileage and grip.

Lightyear One was born through the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge run in Australia.

For the first time, the Turanza Eco tyres will bear the new Bridgestone EV Marking on the sidewalls, which is applied to tyres that are tailor-made for electric vehicles. The mark indicates the tyres underwent a rigorous testing process to receive approval from car manufacturers. As a result, these tyres support the unique features of electric vehicles and meet the car manufacturer requirements for battery range, vehicle control and tyre wear life.

Bridgestone also used its Virtual Tyre Development technology, enabling accurate modelling of a tyre’s performance without having to physically produce and test it, saving up to 40,000 kilometres in real-life outdoor and fleet testing. It can also cut product development time and outdoor tyre tests by up to 50 per cent.

The foundation for Lightyear One was laid during the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, a 3,000km race across the Australian outback that pushes the limits of technological innovation and solar-powered mobility. With this in mind, Bridgestone has collaborated with Eindhoven Technical University and the people behind Lightyear for eight years. Solar Team Eindhoven, the birth ground of Lightyear, won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge’s Cruiser Cup four consecutive times, from 2016-2019.

“Lightyear has impressed with their approach to sustainable mobility ever since we saw the team take on the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, and so we’re excited to play a part in the Lightyear One project,” said COO & CTO of Bridgestone EMIA, Emilio Tiberio. “Bridgestone is committed to a 50 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 and 100 per cent sustainable materials by 2050, and strategic partnerships are fundamental to achieving these goals.”

Lex Hoefsloot, CEO of Lightyear said he is particularly happy to see the collaboration between Bridgestone and Lightyear, with the two companies sharing a vision for future sustainable mobility. “The world is already experiencing unprecedented change and challenges, and through innovation and cutting-edge technologies, we can work together to grasp the opportunities head on and create a more sustainable world.”

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