2020 was a difficult year, of that there’s little doubt.
But despite the very worst that has been thrown at us during a terrible 12 months, there have still been a number of positives to take, as can be seen through a host of prestigious partnerships with some of the world’s leading car manufacturers.
Bridgestone EMIA’s Original Equipment (OE) business achieved new successes in 2020, as we continued to deliver on our standing as a sustainable solutions company.
As a valued and trusted partner of so many prestigious marques, we have continuously grown our OE business in recent years thanks to our strengths in innovation, agility and expertise. With a commitment to always going the extra mile, Bridgestone EMIA’s OE business has provided over 80 new original equipment fitments to 13 car manufacturers, including Mercedes, BMW and Audi, across more than 30 different vehicle models in 2020.
Shaping a sustainable future of mobility has been a focus for both Bridgestone EMIA and its OE business in 2020. With Bridgestone’s proprietary Virtual Tyre Modelling technology reducing the number of physical prototype tyres and overall volume of raw materials used in testing, the revolutionary lightweight ENLITEN Technology arriving on the roads for the first time on Volkswagen’s all-electric ID.3, and around 30 per cent of Bridgestone EMIA’s OE fitments throughout the year exclusively designed for electric vehicles, 2020 has seen Bridgestone pioneering sustainable innovation in both production and product.
An evolving market
Chosen by the world’s leading car manufacturers for its premium, custom-engineered tyres specifically developed to unlock their vehicles’ performances, Bridgestone EMIA remained the number one choice for BMW, Audi, SEAT and Toyota, while continuing to serve as primary supplier for manufacturers including Volkswagen, Skoda and Mercedes.
Over 60 per cent of Bridgestone EMIA’s new OE launches in 2020 were within the HRD+ (18” and above) segment, reflecting the growing consumer demand for larger tyre sizes.
Showing a combination of the rapid recent rise in electric vehicle performance and adoption and Bridgestone’s commitment to providing sustainable mobility and advanced solutions, around 30 per cent of all new OE fitments developed by Bridgestone EMIA in 2020 were created specifically for EVs. From its ologic Technology – created specifically for BMW’s all-electric i3 – to the pioneering ENLITEN Technology, Bridgestone has always supported the development of EVs through ground-breaking tyre technologies.
A greener approach to tyre development
As well as shaping a sustainable future of mobility in its product output, Bridgestone is showing equal commitment to investing in greener practices in the development of those products, as 2020 proved.
Virtual Tyre Modelling represents the future of tyre development at Bridgestone, and its already in use today. The technology enables Bridgestone to create a digital twin of the tyre at its development stage, reducing the volume of physical prototype tyres – and subsequently raw materials – needed, and cutting the product development time by up to 50 per cent. Thanks to Bridgestone’s continued advancement and application of the technology in 2020, 20 per cent fewer experimental tyres were used in the development phase of OE tyres in EMIA from 2019. Furthermore, thanks again to the use of Virtual Tyre Modelling and the rise of indoor testing, Bridgestone EMIA reduced the distance of its fleet tests for OE by 25% from 2019 to 2020.
As well as digitising tyre development, Bridgestone is also committed to enhancing the sustainable performance of its tyres. Due to ongoing efforts in this space and the development of Bridgestone’s innovative tyre technologies, like ENLITEN Technology, the company has drastically reduced the raw materials used per product. All Bridgestone EMIA’s OE summer and all-season tyres launched to the market in 2020 had an average decrease in mass of approximately 10 per cent, compared with the same products from 2019.
Long-time partners and new collaborations
2020 was also the year that saw Bridgestone work with Lamborghini for the first time, as exclusive tyre supplier for its Huracán STO supercar. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Bridgestone delivered custom-developed Potenza Sport tyres that maximised the supercar’s incredible track-level performance for road users.
Bridgestone also developed bespoke Potenza Sport tyres for long-time partner Maserati’s MC20 supercar. As exclusive tyre partner, Bridgestone Potenza Sport’s custom-engineered tyres enhanced the MC20’s handling, control and driving dynamics to maximise its overall performance.
As well as working with historically revered brands, Bridgestone also collaborated with a much-anticipated automotive newcomer in 2020: INEOS Automotive. The manufacturer’s innovative, permanent four-wheel drive, the Grenadier, will arrive on the market with Bridgestone Dueler A/T 001 tyres as its standard fitment when it’s released in early 2022.
2020 also saw the arrival of Bridgestone’s innovative, lightweight ENLITEN Technology on the roads. ENLITEN Technology enables tyres to demonstrate a rolling resistance that is up to 30 per cent lower than a Bridgestone premium summer tyre – lowering fuel consumption or extending battery life – and reduces a tyre’s weight by up to 20 per cent. This equates to up to 2kg fewer raw material resources required to produce every tyre, another environmental benefit from both a resources and final end-of-life stage management standpoint. The technology debuted on the roads on key Bridgestone partner Volkswagen’s all-electric ID.3. ENLITEN Technology has since been made available in 10 fitments and applied by various manufacturers and models such as Volkswagen’s electric SUV the ID.4 and its new Golf 8.
Commenting on Bridgestone EMIA’s OE achievements in 2020 was Steven De Bock, VP Consumer Replacement and OE at Bridgestone EMIA: “2020 was about looking at all of our projects – from start to finish – through a sustainability lens first and foremost. By making conscious efforts to use fewer raw materials, develop and apply our virtual tyre development technology wherever possible, and install the sustainable tyre technologies we’re working on, like ENLITEN Technology, on more and more tyres, we’ve made great progress on this journey over the past 12 months.
“We’re pushing the boundaries of what is possible in engineering to deliver new cutting-edge products that are developed in more sustainable ways to offer an increasingly sustainable performance. It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to work in partnership with the world’s leading car manufacturers to meet our collective environmental goals and shape a more sustainable future of mobility.”
 Based on Bridgestone internal data comparing Bridgestone premium summer tyres with and without ENLITEN Technology in the same tyre size (92Y 225/40R18 XL).