Japanese tire giant Bridgestone is hoping to beat Michelin’s so-called Tweel to the airless tire market with a new model launching soon for semi trucks, according to a report from Automotive News. Bridgestone’s airless tires use a web of recycled thermoplastic instead of pneumatic pressure to keep a vehicle rolling. These new tires have been tested to hold upwards of 5000 pounds (2267kg) each, and provide a major benefit to truckers as they never lose pressure, and are completely puncture proof.
“Fleet operators are asking us for these,” Jon Kempel, executive director for new mobility solution engineering at Bridgestone Americas, told Automotive News. “This technology solves a problem for them and it saves them money. Their job is to keep their trucks on the road, and you can’t do that when your tires are not properly inflated.
According to Kempel, big rigs have an air-related issue once every 8,000 miles (12,874 kilometres). For every minute that truck is sidelined, the shipping company is losing big. It’s likely that these new technology airless tires will cost a good bit more than old school pneu-shoes, but if it saves the trucker, shipper, and goods companies a few hours of downtime, it’s worth the extra expense.
The airless tire has been tested as a replacement for passenger cars for basically as long as I can remember, but Bridgestone’s idea to skip over the passenger car tire market altogether is probably a wise one. Rather than try to convince consumers these tires are a good idea, the company is chasing a market which is actually crying out for a good solution to this problem.
While Michelin has largely relegated its Tweel solution to lawn mowers and golf carts, it still seems confident in a consumer-friendly solution for an airless tire in the market.
If you’re a consumer and you want to see what Bridgestone is up to, you can get a glimpse of the airless tire solution during the Tokyo Summer Olympics in a few months time. As the official tire company of the Olympic games, Bridgestone will be outfitting the entire area with publicly available bicycles with new airless tires.
In addition to the truck market, anything in the shared mobility space should probably also have a nice airless tire on it. This tire can’t be slashed or punctured. You only need to attempt to ride a Jump bike in a big city to see that this would be a boon. When you throw in a massive crowd of enthusiastic sports followers from all over the world, the shared mobility experience surely can’t be better.
I’d also love to get a set of these for a small scooter or a little electric bike, as Bridgestone says these tires have tested to be equally as efficient at rolling resistance as its current Ecopia low-rolling resistance tires.
Personally, I’d love the ability to drive or ride without ever having to check tire pressures again. Never having to worry about a change in season affecting my pressure. Never needing to worry about a leak from road debris. All of this sounds incredible. Sign me the hell up!