Bridgestone's ENLITEN Drives Innovation

Feb. 23, 2024

Steamboat Springs, Colo., has been the home to a winter driving school since 1983.

Since 1993, Bridgestone Americas Inc. has been a primary sponsor of the school, now called the Bridgestone Winter Driving School. The company uses the school as a showcase for its Blizzak line of winter tires.

MTD was recently invited to the school to experience first-hand the driving experience it provides and learn more about how Bridgestone positions its Blizzak line of tires within its total portfolio. 

Bridgestone also provided an overview of new tires that have been launched that contain the company’s ENLITEN technology.

In setting the stage for the event, Davis Adams-Smith, director of communications, Bridgestone Americas, said that “one in five tires throughout the world are produced” by Bridgestone.

He said Bridgestone is striving for a more sustainable world, as envisioned by the Bridgestone E8 Commitment.

By 2050, Adams-Smith said the company wants to be 100% carbon neutral, using 100% renewable resources in the building of its tires. 

He pointed to the company’s ENLITEN technology as a core strategy with Bridgestone's new tire lines.

ENLITEN was first used with the company’s Potenza Race tire launch. 

This was followed by the Bridgestone Turanza EV tire in 2023, Bridgestone’s first replacement tire designed specifically for EVs. The company says the tire delivers a quiet, comfortable ride, as well as long range and excellent wear life.

The Turanza EV tire was Bridgestone’s first replacement tire in North America to feature ENLITEN technology.

Bridgestone then launched the Potenza Sport AS, an ultra-high performance all-season tire designed for dry and wet performance. The product targets sports cars and sports sedans. 

The Potenza Sport AS is Bridgestone’s first ultra-high performance all-season tire incorporating Bridgestone ENLITEN technology. 

Adams-Smith said that the company intends to launch a new all-terrain tire that will contain ENLITEN technology sometime this year. Also coming at a later date will be a new Blizzak tire that contains ENLITEN technology.

Will Robbins, director of consumer product strategy, Bridgestone Americas, explained how Bridgestone views the U.S. tire market in terms of VIO and the replacement tire sales for each segment.

For all of North America, Bridgestone estimates the winter tire market to be 11 million replacement units. 

He said the Blizzak line was launched in Canada in 1992, with its entry into the U.S. market the following year via the Blizzak WS-15.

As a sidenote, he said 40% of passenger replacement tire sales in Canada are winter tires. 

When asked about how Bridgestone is approaching electric vehicle (EV) tires, Robbins said that its “goal is not to have an EV-only tire. We want to have all of those capabilities - improved rolling resistance, wear, low noise - for all our tire lines.”

He went on to say that for EV owners in winter conditions, traction is still the most important factor.

Product overview

During the event in Steamboat Springs, Rachel Swenson, senior product planner, Bridgestone Americas, also presented an overview of the company’s current Blizzak line, as well as two other tire lines. 

The Blizzak WS90 is designed for sedans and minivans and comes in 52 sizes, fitting wheels ranging from 14 inches to 19 inches in diameter.

She said the company’s Blizzak DM-V2 is designed for SUVs, CUVs and light trucks. It is currently available in 60 sizes, fitting rims ranging from 15 inches to 22 inches in diameter.

Both tires use Bridgestone’s patented multicell technology, a new-generation compound featuring silica enhancements for improved grip on snow and ice, said Swenson.

MTD asked specifically at what point do Blizzak tires lose their traction capabilities. Bridgestone represantatives said that Blizzak tires have two wear bars. The first is at 50% tread depth and that's where the multicell technology falls off.

“It’s when you’ll begin to lose maximum traction,” said a Bridgestone official, adding that the 2/32nds wear bar is the “must-replace” bar.

Another Bridgestone tire, the WeatherPeak, is a touring tire with all-weather capabilities according to Swenson.

The WeatherPeak has earned 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake certification and has been designed to deliver enhanced wet and winter performance compared to traditional all-season tires, without the noise and wear of winter tires, said Swenson.

The Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra is designed to deliver a balance of wet, winter and wear performance, she added. 

It comes in more than 49 sizes, fitting wheels ranging from 16 inches to 22 inches in diameter, to cover most new and popular vehicles. Swenson said it is Bridgestone’s most premium SUV, CUV and truck tire.

At the driving school, Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 and Blizzak DM-V2 winter tires were used, as well as the company’s WeatherPeak all-weather tire, which was used as a comparison for traction.

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