Bridgestone is developing an air-free commercial truck tire for the heavy-duty on-highway trucking market using a structure of high-strength flexible spokes rather than a traditional pneumatic casing. The goal of the air-free design is reduced downtime, maintenance and emergency roadside service calls related to loss of inflation pressure.
The air-free concept tire, showcased at the American Trucking Associations' Technology & Maintenance Council Annual Meeting in Atlanta, is designed for high-speed, long-haul applications in a trailer position. Bridgestone said the 295/75R22.5 tire is intended to be scalable to other wheel positions and commercial applications as well.
“Commercial fleets are increasingly looking for ways to maximize uptime and reduce emergency roadside events,” said Jon Kimpel, executive director, new mobility solution engineering, Bridgestone Americas, Inc. “As mobility advances, we see these sophisticated fleets turning to technology solutions and innovative products as a way to improve operations and drive profitability for their fleets. When tires don’t need to be filled with air, this essentially erases the downtime associated with a flat tire, improving safety and making mobility more efficient.”
The initial design of the Bridgestone advanced air free commercial truck tire concept is intended for the trailer position. Reported data from tire manufacturers shows trailer tires account for approximately 20% of truck tire purchases. Furthermore, research indicates 40% of all tire failures occur in the trailer position.
The advanced air-free commercial truck tire concept from Bridgestone is retreadable and engineered for enhanced sustainability. Retreads help reduce natural resource consumption by replacing only the tire tread, rather than the entire tread and casing combination.
“The benefits of an air free commercial truck tire solution are many – this offering has the power to reduce downtime, maintenance and emergency roadside service calls,” said Kimpel. “Combine that with a high retread rate, and our advanced air free tire concept has potential to substantially lower the overall total cost of tire ownership for fleets.”
Kimpel says the tire is designed for loads of 5,000 pounds and speeds up to 75 mph, but don't get too excited about owning one, it won't be on the market for at least another four years.
"We go through a thorough validation process, so it takes time to put the miles on it," says Kimpel. "The other thing is the regulatory side. Where there are vehicle safety standards for pneumatic tires, there's still a gap when it comes to non-pneumatic tires."
The advanced air free commercial truck tire concept is part of a larger Bridgestone air free portfolio, including solutions for personal mobility, such as bicycles and small electric vehicles. Bridgestone is also eyeing eventual deployment on autonomous commercial vehicles.