While the overall 4×4 tyre market increased by 10% in the U.K. between December 2004 and December 2005, sales of Bridgestone’s Dueler 4×4 tyres increased by 18% over the same period.
These figures come on the back of a remarkable 314% increase in sales between 1999 and 2004, during which time the market grew by 181%.
“The continued rise in sales of our Dueler range of 4×4 tyres is tremendously encouraging,” said Andy Lane, consumer marketing manager for Bridgestone UK. “There has been a steady increase in the number and diversity of SUVs on the U.K. roads and tyre manufacturers have needed to keep pace with this growing market.
“As such, we have expanded our range, reflecting the increased popularity of both off and on-road four-wheel-drive vehicles, and the popularity of all-terrain tread patterns in the replacement market.
“It is important to offer drivers of SUVs tyres that give the comfort of a passenger car without compromising the off-road performance. We are delighted and yet not surprised with the continued increase in demand for our Dueler range,” he added.
For on-road driving, there is the Dueler Highway Performance 680, Bridgestone’s flagship product that gives performance comparable to uhp passenger car tyres, says the company.
The name of the Dueler Highway Luxury describes its attributes perfectly, while the Dueler Highway Terrain has a unidirectional tread pattern for optimum wet performance on main and secondary roads.
Away from the tarmac, Bridgestone has its Dueler All Terrain 4×4 tyres. The latest addition to the range, the A/T 694, is the first Bridgestone tyre to incorporate "shark skin" technology a tread design that reduces flow resistance by use of tiny channels in the circumferential grooves, which improve drainage away from the blocks and reduce aquaplaning, the company claims.
When you think of 4x4s, it tends to be large, expensive vehicles, but this is not necessarily always the case; the dual purpose new Fiat Panda 4×4 is designed to be equally at home off-road as it is weaving through city centre traffic.
The Panda 4×4 has defied the notion that four-wheel drive vehicles with on and off-road capabilities have to be huge, costly, road-hogging machines. At around £9,000 it is a fraction of the cost of most off-road vehicles, while its raised profile, permanent four-wheel drive transmission, and the Bridgestone Dueler tyres as original equipment ensure it is respected as a genuine off-road vehicle.
The Panda 4×4, a four-wheel drive version of Fiat’s multi-award winning European Car of the Year 2004, comes with a choice of either Dueler Highway-Terrain (H/T) 684 or Dueler All-Terrain (A/T) 693 tyres.
The next step
Run-flat technology dominated the passenger car tyre market in 2005. The number of cars fitted with Bridgestone Potenza RE050 RFT tyres increased dramatically in 2005, and continual testing and developing in conjunction with major car manufacturers also led to the unveiling of Bridgestone’s first comfort-oriented run-flat tyre for touring cars the Turanza ER300 RFT.
The benefits of run-flat technology have been well-documented over the past few years, and although original equipment fitments are increasing for most sectors of passenger car market, SUV drivers have yet to experience the convenience and safety advantages of driving on run-flat tyres.
However, the new Toyota RAV4 fits Bridgestone’s latest technological breakthrough a run-flat system for high-profile tyres. The Bridgestone Support Ring (BSR) run-flat tyre has been in development since 2002, and is a standard fitment on the top-of-the-range RAV4.
The BSR tyre features a lightweight metal ring that fixes the bead on the rim of the tyre and supports the vehicle in case of a loss of pressure.
“The development of the BSR is very exciting,” said Andy Lane. “Bridgestone’s aim is to make run-flat technology available for all passenger cars, and we are delighted to provide the benefits of it to drivers of SUVs for the first time.
“We will continue to work closely with manufacturers of 4×4 vehicles to ensure the RAV4 is not the only SUV on UK roads to feature this innovative new technology,” he concluded.