BRIDGE­STONE ECOPIA

The de­tails of Bridge­stone’s new eco-friendly tyres

Car India - - CONTENTS - Story: Gau­rav Nag­pal Pho­tog­ra­phy: Gau­rav Nag­pal, Bridge­stone

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.

SLOPE TEST

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

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