Products

Bridgestone's Firestone Brand Targets Small Fleets and Owner-Operators

July 17, 2013

By Ann Neal

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New product development and technical research is based at the Bridgestone Americas Technical Center houses labs and testing facilities in a high-tech, environmentally friendly building.
New product development and technical research is based at the Bridgestone Americas Technical Center houses labs and testing facilities in a high-tech, environmentally friendly building.

AKRON, OH -- Bridgestone Commercial Solutions, a business unit of Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC, says operators who equip their vehicles with new Firestone-brand commercial tires can save up to $1,200 a year.

During an event kicking off its Firestone Drives America Tour in Akron, Bridgestone officials talked about their efforts to reinvigorate Firestone as the company's mid-level truck tire brand. A key to that is its new Eco-Products line.

Previously announced at the Mid-America Trucking Show, the Eco-Products line lowers operating costs by 7%, or $1,200 a year, according to Bridgestone.

The SmartWay-verified tires provide 19% longer tread life and 1% better fuel economy compared to previous Firestone products. The company credits new applications of existing technologies for the improved wear and rolling resistance of the FS591 steer, FD691 drive and FT491 all-position trailer tires.

The FS591 steer radial combines low rolling resistance tread and energy-saving casing design to optimize fuel efficiency, according to Bridgestone. The FS591 features a wide, deep tread and proprietary shoulder design for greater removal mileage and irregular wear resistance. The company’s patented sidewall technologies, Ulti-Rib and and Defense Side Groove, promote smooth wear. A continuous shoulder offers long, even wear and lower rolling resistance.

The FD691 drive radial has a continuous shoulder design and high-rigidity tread pattern to promote long, even wear, helping increase tread life and lower rolling resistance. Flow-through design evacuates water to increase road grip. The tire’s optimized bead design and proprietary compound in the sidewall lowers rolling resistance and improves fuel efficiency throughout the lifecycle of the casing.

The FT491 all-position radial uses the company’s Ulti-Rib and Defense Groove designs to combat the initiation and spread of irregular wear. Sidewall protector ribs help protect the casing from curbing damage and abrasion. The wider tread spreads load over a larger area, distributing footprint pressure to promote long, smooth wear. The wider design also takes a full-size drive cap when retreaded for extended life.

All Eco tires use Bridgestone’s patented NanoPro-Tech polymer technology that limits energy loss for improved rolling resistance and optimum fuel efficiency. In addition, an innovative sidewall design used in each tire reduces overall tire weight to improve fuel efficiency without sacrificing durability.

In addition to producing stronger, more durable tires that lower a fleet’s costs per mile, tire technologies help speed products to market. For example, the use of 3-D printing technology enables the company to create plastic prototypes in-house at its Americas Technical Center in Akron, Ohio. Engineers can see design, siping and tread patterns within a few hours, rather than waiting for a prototype from a mold vendor.

Philip Dobbs, chief marketing officer for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, identified Bridgestone and Bandag as the company’s premium brands. He identified Firestone as a mid-level brand in the commercial-vehicle marketplace, and Dayton as a value brand. He said 2013 will be the “Year of Firestone” with advertising and marketing activities to revitalize the brand.

“Becoming a trusted advisor to and exceeding the needs of small business owners is at the center of our campaign and its featured products,” says Matt Stevenson, vice president of marketing for Bridgestone Commercial Solutions.

“Thanks to customer feedback, our new products specifically cater to the needs of these owners — a lower cost-per-mile through long wear, fuel savings with our Firestone Eco-Products, and excellent retreadability, which extends the life of the casing. These new Firestone tires also reflect a marked improvement in our product development cycle, bringing new and exciting products to market faster with a robust focus on innovation.”

The grand prize in the Drive a Firestone Sweepstakes is a special Firestone Edition Class 8 tractor. The truck is on display at the minor league ballpark in Akron, Ohio, on July 16, the first stop on a tour to promote Firestone-brand truck tires. Class 8 CDL holders are eligible to enter the sweepstakes
The grand prize in the Drive a Firestone Sweepstakes is a special Firestone Edition Class 8 tractor. The truck is on display at the minor league ballpark in Akron, Ohio, on July 16, the first stop on a tour to promote Firestone-brand truck tires. Class 8 CDL holders are eligible to enter the sweepstakes

Bridgestone is promoting its new commercial tires with the Firestone Drives America Tour, a cross-country road show that introduces the Eco Product line to fleets and drivers, offers Class 8 CDL holders a chance to enter a sweepstakes for a Class 8 tractor, and celebrates the Firestone brand.

“Firestone is rooted in a rich history of trust and innovation. For many, the F-shield is a source of confidence, pride and excitement,” said Stevenson. “This promotional tour showcases both the excitement and admiration of the Firestone name.”

The company is partnering with minor league baseball and NCAA college football to create a Firestone night at the ballpark or stadium for fleet customers, dealers, and professional drivers. The tour began July 16 in Akron, Ohio. It will stop at select minor league baseball throughout the summer and NCAA college football games in the fall. The tour is part of the company’s “Those With Drive, Drive a Firestone” brand marketing campaign.

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