Bridgestone, one of the leading tire manufacturers, is set to test its next-generation tire technology on ultra-compact electric vehicles (EVs) in Japan. The Air Free Concept is an airless tire that utilizes specially shaped resin spokes to support the weight of the vehicle and absorb shock from the road surface. The technology promises to eliminate the need for tire maintenance and prevent punctures, ensuring a low-maintenance and hassle-free driving experience for car owners.
The Air Free Concept is also designed to be more sustainable and contribute to a circular economy by enabling the retreading of the rubber area that comes into contact with the road surface and recycling the renewable spoke parts.
Eliminating tire maintenance
The Air Free Concept tires developed by Bridgestone have been designed to eliminate the need for tire management, especially with air pressure and punctures. Conventional tires are inflated with high-pressure air, which provides a spring-like function to support the vehicle’s weight and absorb shock from the road surface, similar to an inflated ball.
However, if the air pressure is not appropriate or the tire is flat, it can lead to problems with driving. The Air Free Concept technology provides a solution to this problem by supporting the load with specially shaped spokes on the side of the tire, thus preventing punctures and negating the need for tire maintenance.
Sustainability and resource recycling
To improve the tire’s sustainability credentials, the rubber area that comes into contact with the driving surface can be retreaded. Moreover, Bridgestone plans to recycle the resin of the renewable spoke parts, contributing to the efficient use of resources and the realization of a circular economy.
Takahiro Kawahara, General Manager of Solution and Digital Engineering Development Division, Bridgestone, said, “We are very pleased to start a demonstration experiment with Idemitsu Kosan, which aims to become an advanced solution business using next-generation mobility, as a step toward the practical application of the Air Free Concept.”
Bridgestone’s vision for the future
Bridgestone is committed to developing sustainable and innovative tire solutions for the future. The Air Free Concept tires were first patented in 2011 and were initially designed for bicycles. The company has since expanded its airless tire technology to include ultra-compact electric vehicles and hopes to continue conducting further verification of the airless concept with a view to equipping future EVs with the Air Free Concept. Bridgestone’s tire technology aligns with its goal to contribute to a sustainable society and help to protect the future global environment.
Idemitsu Kosan’s perspective
Akira Oishi, General Manager, Mobility Strategy Office, Idemitsu Kosan, said, “We believe that the Air Free Concept developed by Bridgestone is environmentally friendly and highly compatible with our vision. In addition, no-puncture tires contribute to reducing the risk of vehicle stoppages and are expected to improve the value of use by customers. In the future, we will jointly conduct this demonstration experiment with the aim of installing it on ultra-compact EVs currently under development.”
By partnering with Bridgestone, Idemitsu Kosan is committed to achieving its 2050 vision of giving shape to innovation and fulfilling its responsibility to support people’s lives and protect the future global environment through the social implementation of diverse resource recycling solutions.