New and Improved: Bridgestone Introduces 3 Firestone Tires
By 2020, Bridgestone Corp. will either upgrade or replace 100% of its products. It can do that in part because it spends $1 billion: a year on research and development.
The turnover has already begun. In May, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC introduced three Firestone tires: the Champion (with Fuel Fighter Technology), Firehawk AS and Firehawk Indy 500.
It also expanded the number of sizes in the Bridgestone DriveGuard line to cover mini-vans and CUVs.
Champions sold this year may still be traveling on U.S. highways when Bridgestone reaches its 2020 deadline. The all-season touring tire is backed by a 70,000-mile limited tread wear warranty, the longest of any Firestone tire.
It also features Bridgestone’s proprietary Fuel Fighter Technology. “We’ve never had a low-rolling resistant Firestone product before,” says Darlene Gray, UHP specialist for the Consumer Tire Sales Division.
The Firestone Champion will replace the Firestone Affinity Touring and Precision Touring tires. It is available in 48 T-, H- and V-rated sizes, more than the combined offering of the Affinity and Precision lines. That includes 16 new 14- through 18-inch sizes.
Some of the mini-van fitments include Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan and Toyota Sienna.
Next generation: Firehawk AS
The high performance all-season Firehawk AS is designed to perform equally well in wet and dry conditions.
Compared to the tire it is replacing, the Firehawk Wide Oval AS, the new AS has more water channels for improved water evacuation and 20% more biting edges for superior snow traction. The new tread compound and design not only result in a longer-wearing tire (50,000-mile warranty vs. 40,000 on H- and V-rated sizes), but also help it retain performance characteristics like siping as it wears (see photo above).
Gray says people who live in inclement weather conditions want to have an all-season tire that gives them confidence — “not only when it is raining but also when it is snowing and as the tire wears.”
The Firehawk AS is available in 30 H-, V- and W-rated sizes, including three new sizes: 185/55R15, 195/65R15 and 195/60R15. The tire’s sizes address the performance touring blend of fitments, including popular sedans like the Nissan Altima and coupes like the Mitsubishi Eclipse.
Indy 500 vs. Wide Oval
The new Indy 500 tread compound provides improved performance on dry and wet roads compared to the tire it is replacing, the Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500. Bridgestone’s patented Pulse Groove Technology improves water evacuation; combined with the help of a silica-rich tread compound, the tire has a 20% shorter stopping distance on wet roads.
The tread compound and wide shoulder blocks result in improved handling in dry conditions.
The summer UHP tire is available in 48 W-rated sizes, including 21 new sizes. The size complement caters to performance coupes and sedans.
7 new DriveGuard sizes
The seven new sizes added to the Bridgestone Drive-Guard run-flat tire line cover mini-van and CUV fitments. The sizes are:
A DriveGuard winter tire is only available in Europe for now. As for versions on pickup trucks and large SUVs, there are “technical hurdles to overcome before we can do it,” says John Arnold, consumer tire education manager, U.S. and Canada, for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC. “We are working on that.”