Bridgestone is to supply the Lightyear One solar-electric project with its lightweight ENLITEN technology in the form of its Turanza Eco tires. The company hopes the tires, engineered specifically for the vehicle, will make a significant efficiency contribution to maintain battery life, maximize the range of the car and reduce its environmental impact.
The partnership between Netherlands-based Lightyear and Bridgestone comes as the tire manufacturer seeks to demonstrate its progress in delivering advanced solutions in the sustainable mobility sector.
Dubbed the world’s first long-range solar-electric vehicle, the Lightyear One will hit test tracks in Q2 of 2021, and then become commercially available by the end of the year.
For the project, Bridgestone engineered the Turanza Eco tires, combining the lightweight ENLITEN technology with other technologies to produce a reduced-weight tire that uses fewer raw materials during the manufacturing process. Rolling resistance was achieved via a bespoke tread combined with a larger diameter, higher inflation pressures and a slimmer design.
Due to the extremely low rolling resistance and unique design engineered to boost range, the Turanza Eco enabled the Lightyear One to carry a lighter battery and, as a result, helped achieve a 90kg weight reduction.
As well as helping the vehicle to travel further between battery charges, the tire’s silica dispersion was improved by applying a new mixing technology. Overall, this equated to a 3.6kg or 10% reduction in tire weight per vehicle, without any compromise being made in wear mileage or grip.
The Turanza Eco tires will bear a new Bridgestone EV marking on the sidewalls to specify that they are tailor-made for electric vehicles and to indicate the rigorous testing process undergone to receive approval from car manufacturers.
During the R&D process, Bridgestone deployed its Virtual Tire Development technology to enable accurate modeling of the tire’s performance without having to produce or test a physical prototype. This reportedly saved 40,000km of real-life outdoor and fleet testing. Bridgestone says that this process will enable it to reduce product development time and outdoor and fleet tire tests by up to 50%.
“We’re particularly happy to see this collaboration between Bridgestone and Lightyear, with two companies that share a vision for future sustainable mobility coming together,” commented Lex Hoefsloot, CEO of Lightyear. “The world is already experiencing unprecedented change and challenges, and through innovation and cutting-edge technologies we can work together to grasp the opportunities head on and create a more sustainable world.”