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50 sizes of Blizzak

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50 sizes of Blizzak

Bridgestone Americas Inc. is manufacturing a winter tire for your procrastinating customer. The customer who doesn’t think to replace worn windshield wipers until a monsoon hits likely waits to see snowflakes fly before purchasing winter tires. The new Blizzak DM-V2 tire is for them.

A microtexture pattern on the DM-V2 provides “immediate winter performance” without any break-in period for drivers of CUVs, SUVs and pickup trucks. The technology was unveiled in 2014 on the newest Blizzak tire for passenger cars and minivans, the WS80, and Bridgestone Product Manager Anant Gandhi says the microtexture pattern eliminates the 100-mile break-in time of previous generation products.

The DM-V2 is replacing the DM-V1, a popular tire Gandhi says has performed and sold well, “but it’s time to set the benchmark yet again.” The DM-V2 comes in 50 sizes with higher speed ratings — T and H — than the DM-V1’s all-R rating. It features a new tread pattern with 15% more block edges to provide better traction and more “snow-shearing force” in snowy or slushy conditions.

The tire’s zigzag siping works from the inside out. When a driver breaks or pulls, the 3-D sipes work like a series of pyramids. Some go in while others go out to provide stability and traction, Gandhi says. Add a contact patch with optimized and stabilized pressure, and the DM-V2 creates “better ice traction, snow traction and better handling in general.”

Microscopic pores within the tire’s rubber work like a sponge, soaking up water between the contact patch and icy surface. For the DM-V2 Bridgestone again copied improvements from last year’s WS80. Now those sponge-like pores work even better, Gandhi says, because they contain a hydrophilic coating which works like a magnet to draw even more water from the surface. Bridgestone added “bite particles” to the multi-cell compound to work in tandem with those absorbent pores. While the pores soak up water, the particles dig into the ice to provide even better traction.

Carlos Lopez is the tire buyer for H&F Tire Service’s four stores in the Lancaster, Pa., region. After driving and riding in a vehicle with DM-V2s at the tire’s launch in February in Steamboat Springs, Colo., he says experiencing the hydrophilic coating was impressive. “The tires were squealing on ice. I just thought that was amazing. Usually you don’t think on ice that they’re going to grip that much. They were making noise; that just impressed me more than anything.”

Bridgestone plans to start taking DM-V2 orders this month, and those early-bird orders will set the pace for production in Japan. The company also looks at the previous winter season to plan for the next, and though Gandhi didn’t provide specific numbers, he hinted at increased production for winter 2015-2016. “Let’s just say there’s a lot of snow that’s falling, especially in the Northeast.”

The DM-V2 also addresses a growing market for CUV tires. While Gandhi calls the overall winter tire market “fairly stable,” he says “the area that we do see a lot of growth in is CUVs.”

So far, Lopez says he isn’t seeing that same growth for CUV and SUV winter tires in eastern Pennsylvania. It seems customers there are relying on the vehicle’s advances in traction control technology, and all-season tires, to get them through winter. Jay Goring, a regional sales manager for K&M Tire Inc. whose territory spans Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, sees an opportunity to educate customers who for a long time believed all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicles would get them through anything. Goring thinks framing the conversation around “winter tires” as opposed to “snow tires” is a good starting point.

“You go through a lot more winter than you do snow,” Goring says.

But dealers did put the DM-V2s to the test on Bridgestone’s winter snow track in Colorado. The track features a hilly and curvy terrain covered in snow. Dealers drove three vehicles on the track, outfitted with winter tires from competitors and Bridgestone’s Blizzak DM-V2s. Goring says the DM-V2s provided the best sense of control. When the vehicles were driven onto an indoor ice rink, drivers took laps and navigated cones at the corners.

“When you’re on an ice rink walking is kind of sketchy. When they did the laps, had it up to 12 to 13 mph and 90 degree sweeping turns and no slippage, and the (vehicle’s) traction control didn’t come on. It was probably one of the most impressive things I’ve seen,” Goring says.   ■

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