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Bridgestone Introduces New Run-Flat Tire

Bridgestone Corporation has announced the introduction of a “third-generation” run-flat tire for 2009, focusing on sales to original equipment manufacturers for installation in new passenger vehicles. Bridgestone is positioning the new run-flats as an environmentally-friendly option for OEMs to produce smaller, lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles (by eliminating the space and weight associated with a spare tire). Bridgestone estimates that eliminating spare tires from all vehicles would reduce tire demand by 59 million units, thus lowering CO2 emissions by 2 million tons per year (encompassing the spare tire’s entire life-cycle, from raw materials procurement through disposal).

Bridgestone’s first generation of self-supporting run-flats were introduced in 1987. These tires tended to give a hard ride comparable to conventional tires because the sidewalls were thick and somewhat inflexible. In 2005, Bridgestone introduced its second generation run-flat tires, which featured an improved sidewall-reinforced rubber compound that created a softer ride. According to the company, the new third-generation RFTs achieve riding comfort comparable to conventional tires. Perhaps as importantly (from an adoption standpoint), the new tires will be available in a wider range of sizes, including sizes that were previously difficult to develop. Previous generations of self-supporting run-flats have been largely concentrated in high performance tires with very low aspect ratios.

Here is a link to the press release on the new tires, which is quite detailed and informative.

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