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May 28, 2014

Bridgestone launches an all-season replacement run-flat line

Ride comfort is comparable to a premium touring tire

by Ann Neal

Bridgestone says the DriveGuard line has overcome the rapid wear, harsh ride, high price and limited availability of earlier run-flat tires.
Bridgestone says the DriveGuard line has overcome the rapid wear, harsh ride, high price and limited

Bridgestone Americas Inc. has launched a line of all-season tires that combines run-flat capability with the smooth ride of a conventional tire. The company says DriveGuard tires are the first full line of mass-market replacement tires available for coupes, sedans and wagons not originally equipped with run-flat tires.

“We’re marketing this as a touring tire,” says Robert Saul, senior product manager. Bridgestone is using the Turanza Serenity Plus, a premium touring tire, for comparison purposes. Because the two tires share the same tread compound, they have similar wet, dry and snow performance.

“DriveGuard, even though it’s a run-flat tire, will deliver comparable ride comfort to the Turanza. It doesn’t mean it’s as quiet and comfortable and serene as the Turanza because that’s what the Turanza excels at, so there’s still a reason to have both of those products in our portfolio. But this run-flat tire can run toe-to-toe with the touring tire, and a lot of people would have a hard time telling the difference.”

Advancements in Bridgestone’s run-flat technology are responsible for the smooth ride, according to Jamie McNutt, manager of tire development and engineering. Proprietary nanopro-tech technology manipulates molecules to create a stronger, heat-resistant material and reduce heat generated when driving on tires that have lost air pressure. Engineers also added an innovation called cooling fins to the tire’s exterior to disrupt the flow of air and carry away heat. Finding ways to reduce heat enabled engineers to make the DriveGuard lighter and more flexible so it rides like a conventional tire.

The run-flat technology was perfected in Japan, where the tires will be manufactured at first. “Because so much of the demand is here compared to the rest of the world, we have plans to resource a lot of the production into facilities here in North America in the next few years,” says Saul.

DriveGuard tires can travel up to 50 miles at maximum speeds of 50 mph if a puncture or loss of pressure occurs. The company says DriveGuard tires may be repaired in certain circumstances depending on tire damage, amount of pressure loss and vehicle operating conditions.

DriveGuard tires are available in the U.S. and Canada with tire pressure monitoring systems in 32 sizes, 15-inch to 19-inch rim diameters and 35 to 65 series. The sizes cover two-thirds of new passenger cars equipped with TPMS. DriveGuard tires come with a 50,000-mile tread wear warranty (W-rated) or  60,000-mile warranty (H- and V-rated).

Bridgestone says the benefits of a run-flat tire resonate with consumers in the safety segment, defined as one in four consumers. According to the company’s market research, 88% of consumers in the safety segment say they are likely or very likely to buy the tire.

The DriveGuard tire will be priced comparably to the Turanza tire in a similar size and speed rating.    ■

Bridgestone is targeting the Dueler H/L Alenza Plus for the luxury CUV, SUV and LT segments.
<p>Bridgestone is targeting the Dueler H/L Alenza Plus for the luxury CUV, SUV and LT segments.</p>

New premium tire for the CUV, SUV and LT segments has an 80,000-mile warranty

Bridgestone Americas Inc. says its newest highway luxury tire offering, the Dueler H/L Alenza Plus, gives drivers of premium SUVs, CUVs, and light trucks a longer lasting luxury driving experience. The company improved some features of the original Dueler H/L Alenza, which it introduced in 2004, without sacrificing performance and other capabilities, according to Justin Hayes, consumer tire product manager.

The new tire has an 80,000-mile limited tread wear warranty on 33 T-, H- and V-rated sizes compared to the 65,000-mile warranty of its predecessor. Bridgestone also boosted the tread wear warranty on the W-rated size to 55,000 miles versus 40,000 miles of the earlier generation Alenza.

The Dueler Alenza Plus has 10% lower rolling resistance compared to its predecessor. The tire’s new tread compound contains 5% recycled rubber. The improved rolling resistance and recycled materials helped the tire earn Bridgestone’s eco-product designation.

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