|Bridgestone New Product Introduction and Demonstration
Evaluating Product at Phoenix International Raceway
by Jim Bennett
Bridgestone announced it's 2001 high performance and technically advanced passenger tires to dealers and the press in Phoenix this week using technical and business overviews. It also had a "Drive and Learn" event, at Firebird International Raceway, with time for us to drive and evaluate their latest tires under conditions that simulate varied road conditions.
Bridgestone is the premium, technology-driven consumer tire brand of the Bridgestone/Firestone Corporation. According to independent industry sources, the corporation has a 19.4% market share for tires worldwide in 2000. Goodyear and Michelin are among its chief global competitors for premium performance tires.
As I flew back to LA, I thought how much the design, manufacturing and actual driving processes have evolved over the last decade as well as business challenges. Information presented during the event and the driving conditions I experienced seemed at times a cross between advanced university chemistry, physics, business courses and an expedition to a windswept Sahara desert.
Our in-car evaluations, focused on four different types of road conditions, at Phoenix International Raceway. It helped illustrate how well designed and produced tires can perform consistently at a high level. Drivers aggressively drove the vehicles and tires with widely different driving skill sets during planned and unplanned circumstances.
Driving vehicles and testing their key components under challenging conditions is standard operating procedure within the entire automotive industry and cannot yet be handled by computer simulations. The industry believes if products perform well at their limits, everyday driving and occasional emergency maneuvers can be confidently handled within a products stated operating range. Even less demanding tire evaluations, which typically focus on longevity, ride comfort, tire noise and price will test in varying degrees, vehicle cornering, braking in dry and wet conditions, obstacle avoidance, emergency handling and even winter conditions on snow and ice.
Dated: February 12, 2001