During a virtual launch event Tuesday, Bridgestone Americas debuted two new UHP tires that further help establish its presence in the growing segment: the Bridgestone Potenza Sport summer UHP tire and Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS+ all-season UHP tire. With both tires, Bridgestone promises confident grip and handling that pushes the boundaries of technology and innovation, according to Riccardo Cichi, president and chief sales officer, North America.
Cichi kicked off the presentation by emphasizing Bridgestone’s commitment to creating cutting-edge products. “Today, we’re proud to unveil to you two new tires that will provide control and handling in any season for confident, edge-of-your-seat driving excitement, meticulously designed and rigorously tested to deliver the ultimate in performance at every turn.”
Key to that undertaking, Cichi also noted that Bridgestone leverages its OE legacy and racing ties. “With our strong legacy in the original equipment segment and a rich history in Indy Car racing, Bridgestone is accustomed to developing innovative, specially designed tires, fine-tuned to meet the requirements of performance vehicles that demand excellence in every area,” Cichi said.
Underscoring Bridgestone’s legacy in the UHP tire category, as well, Cichi continued: “Bridgestone is the tire of choice for some of the most prestigious performance vehicles in the world today, including BMW, Lexus, Cadillac, Maserati and many more.”
A New Level of Control
The panel consisted of Jeff Cook, executive director, strategy and production portfolio planning; Dale Harrigle, chief engineer, consumer replacement tires; and Merritt Gilbert, director, consumer marketing operations.
In expressing the Potenza Sport’s precise handling and control, Gilbert noted, “We’re talking total responsiveness for one hell of a ride. We’ve been looking forward to this for a while now.”
Cook chimed in, pointing to a specially engineered pattern geometry, which he said helps to maintain contact pressure and support water evacuation when accelerating or braking in wet conditions.
“After we achieved the perfect balance of these components, we fine-tuned the tread sequencing to help minimize road noise and vibration,” noted Gilbert.
The Potenza Sport will come in 65 sizes. “That’s a 96% coverage of the U.S. performance tire market for 18- to 22-inch wheels, with even more sizes coming later,” she added.
The presentation then turned to the track, where professional drivers put the Potenza Sport through its paces, to showcase its new technology — which Bridgestone says creates wet, dry, and responsive cornering performance.
One of those top drivers, was none other than Mario Andretti, one of the most successful race car drivers of all time, as the only driver ever to win the Indy 500, the Daytona 500 and a Formula One world championship. Andretti described the tire’s attributes and “feeling the limit; the outer threshold of grip,” saying, “Even when you reach that limit, you have control, you [can] bring it back.”
Booth summed up the Potenza Sport portion of the presentation, saying, “it is going to be an unbelievable summer tire, a true premium performer. This tire is going to sit on top of the summer UHP category for sure.”
Turning to the Potenza RE980AS+, a reimagined successor to the Potenza RE980AS, Cook noted: “Our team took an already great all-season performance tire and enhanced its capabilities to face an assortment of driving conditions all year round.”
In creating the Potenza RE980AS+, Gilbert said Bridgestone “took extremely valuable customer feedback we’ve received and tasked our engineers to make that tire even better. A tire designed to tackle the elements like never before.”
While the current version of the tire delivers impressive grip and handling in wet and dry conditions, Bridgestone added to it, Gibert noted. “That’s where the RE980AS+ comes in and demonstrates a real improvement …. taking winter handling and stopping power to the next level.”
Harrigle pointed out the first thing one might notice when looking at the RE980AS+ is a familiar-looking tread pattern, similar to the original RE980AS that was introduced in 2018. “So, rather than try to mess up a good thing, we maintained the same great tread pattern, but, this time, we combined it with the same next-generation compound technology we introduced into Potenza Sport to make sure this wasn’t just your typical all-season, UHP tire,” he explained.
“The ultra-high silica compound technology is what unlocks this tire’s true potential, allowing the same responsive drive, handling and hydroplaning-resistant wet performance. You’ve seen it in the previous generation, while offering a next-level balance of winter traction and grip not seen in this tire before.”
Capping off the presentation, Mirella Cielo, president, consumer replacement tire, Bridgestone Americas, reinforced the goal and strategy of the two new Potenza tire releases.
“In reimagining our Potenza lineup, we set out to create two new ultimate performance contenders that would help enthusiast drivers get the most out of their car in a wide variety of weather and road conditions,” Cielo said. “The improvements we’ve made in dry, wet and even snow performance speak for themselves when you feel these tires on the road, and we can’t wait for drivers to experience the difference themselves.”
The Bridgestone Potenza Sport comes in 65 sizes covering 81% of sports cars and sedans on the road, while the Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS+ is offered in 53 sizes covering 85% of sports cars and sedans on the road for the U.S. and Canadian markets. Both tires are available now at all Bridgestone authorized dealers in the U.S. and Canada.
A full suite of marketing, collateral and assets can be found on Bridgestonemarketing.com, including a package of sales tools for dealer showrooms.
New Bridgestone Potenza Tire Highlights
•Summer UHP tire
•Features and benefits: Confident wet and dry performance, responsive steering and enhanced cornering
•Top fitments: Porsche 911, BMW M3, Toyota Supra, Chevrolet Corvette
Potenza RE980 AS+
•All-Season UHP tire
•Features and benefits: Impressive grip, improved comfort, improved winter performance, long-lasting performance
•Top fitments: BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Mustang GT, Infiniti Q50