The details of Bridgestone’s new eco-friendly tyres
ATYRE WOULD RANK AMONG THE most neglected parts of a car — after all, it is just a piece of rubber that keeps you above the road, right? Wrong. Your car might make all the power in the world, but it is that oft-forgotten piece of rubber that gets the power down on the road. It is no small wonder then that the average driver does not give two hoots about the type and condition of the tyre and its effect on the performance of the car.
Fluctuating fuel prices have renewed the focus on the role of tyres in the fuel consumption of a car. Bridgestone recently launched the Ecopia range of tyres in India, touting their USP as high fuel efficiency — estimated at seven per cent better for passenger cars and 10 per cent better for SUVs as compared to conventional tyres. The proof of the proverbial pudding, though, is in the eating, and I was part of a select group of journalists invited by Bridgestone to the Thai Bridgestone Proving Ground (TBPG), near Bangkok, to experience first-hand the advantages of the Ecopia range.
The TBPG is an expansive facility occupying an area of 5,26,194 square metres (or 130 acres) and was built to be able to test tyres in different road conditions and for varying requirements.
For the demonstration, Bridgestone had arranged three petrol Honda Brio Amaze sedans (known in India as the Honda Amaze) with automatic transmission and ABS, of which one each was shod with Ecopia tyres (EP 150 for passenger cars), Bridgestone S3322 tyres, and a competitor tyre brand. Read on to know how the Ecopia tyres performed on some of these sections.
LOW ROLLING RESISTANCE TEST
The three test cars started from the same distance, accelerated to 60 km/h and, at the same time, the Bridgestone test drivers turned off their engines, and the cars coasted to a stop without applying brakes. The Ecopia-shod car stopped at the furthest distance, with the S322-shod car halting 76.6 metres behind, and the competitor tyre-shod car a further 32 metres behind. This was attributed to the low rolling resistance coefficient (RRC) of the Ecopia tyres, which allowed the car to travel a longer distance on the same amount of fuel.
Bridgestone provided two tricycles parked on a track with a three-degree slope — one shod with Ecopia tyres and the other with competitor tyres. The former rolled to a considerably longer distance than the latter, further proving the low RRC of the Ecopia range.
WET BRAKING TEST
On the wet braking section, with a water depth of three millimetres, the Bridgestone test driver set off in the Ecopia-shod car and, at a pre-designated point, slammed on the brakes and the car screeched to a halt. Next came the S322- and competitor-shod cars, driven by the same driver to maintain consistency. Compared to the Ecopia-shod car, the S322-shod car stopped 4.57 metres ahead, with the competitor-shod car stopping in between at 4.3 metres.
WET HANDLING TEST
I drove the Ecopia- and competitor-shod cars on a circular track with a constant spray of water, cones to mark the outer and inner borders, a short slalom run, and a speed limit of 60 km/h. The Ecopia-shod car felt noticeably more grippy than the competitor-shod car, with not a single screech from the tyres nor a moment of uncertainty. The competitor-shod car felt relatively less assured and the tyres screeched more than once on the track.
COMFORT TEST ON DIFFERENT SURFACES
The test driver took me for a drive in the Ecopia-shod car on a section of the track that had a broken stretch, another with multiple expansion joints, and yet another with deep ruts. On all these surfaces, the car was very quiet and, though I did not get to experience the competitor-shod car on the same surfaces, the former felt much quieter than my experience in driving similar cars wearing non-Ecopia rubber on such surfaces in the real world.
The Ecopia range is a step in the right direction, as the tyres offer improved fuel economy along with a quieter, more comfortable ride than comparable offerings. Let us hope this portends the arrival of similar offerings from other tyre manufacturers and a swing towards the use of fuel-efficient tyres in the market.
THE ECOPIA RANGE IS A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, AS THE TYRES OFFER IMPROVED FUEL ECONOMY ALONG WITH A QUIETER, MORE COMFORTABLE RIDE
Eat my dust! Ecopia rubber allowed the car to roll well beyond comparable and competing rubber
Forget friction - the Ecopia-shod tricycle stopped a sizeable distance ahead of its competitor
Whatever be the condition of the road, the Ecopia tyres seemed to smoothen the ride to a very comfortable level
The Bridgestone instructor diligently explained the finer points of the wet handling circuit to us enthusiastic journos
Water woes - where? The car with Ecopia tyres was a lot more grippy and assured on the wet surface
Competing rubber could be risky, as the car travelled a longer distance post braking on the wet road