Bridgestone Americas has decided to make 2013 the “Year of Firestone.” On the commercial side, this means promotion, investment and innovation.
“Our goal is to make Firestone the number one tier-two brand in commercial truck brands,” said Matthew Stevenson, vice president of marketing for Bridgestone Americas’ commercial division.
As part of this positioning, the Firestone brand is focused on developing the best value proposition for its customers, said Kurt Danielson, president of the division. The company is trying to keep things simple understand the customer’s needs, find solutions and deliver.
“It really starts by having world-class products and then building solutions around those products,” he said. “That’s what we focus on every single day we wake up.”
Bridgestone has recently invested more than $1 billion in commercial manufacturing at its plants in Warren County and La Vergne, Tenn.; Des Moines, Iowa; Bloomington, Ill.; and its newest addition, a massive OTR plant in Aiken, S.C. The investment allows the company to have the tires when customers need them, providing customers the best value, Danielson said.
Mid-July, several members of the media had the chance to tour the Americas Technical Center in Akron, Ohio, and get a run down of technology being used and developed in order to improve products for customers.
“Technology is the only way you can improve paradigm of performance,” said Todd Buxton, commercial tire development.
The technology being developed by Bridgestone is utilized in the newest line of Firestone brand eco-tires FS591, FT491 and FD691.
The line reduces operating cost by 7%, compared to previous lines of Firestone tires, improving wear by 19% and providing a 1% increase in fuel economy, according to Buxton. Bridgestone estimates the savings to be $1,200 a year.
The tires meet EPA SmartWay and California Air Resources Board fuel efficiency requirements.
Additionally, all three tires feature Bridgestone’s NanoPro-Tech polymer technology that “limits energy loss for improved rolling resistance and optimum fuel efficiency,” and a new sidewall design that reduces overall tire weight to “improve fuel efficiency without sacrificing durability,” the company claims.
The FS591 steer tire also features a wide, deep tread and proprietary shoulder design to improve removal mileage and resist irregular wear, Ulti-Rib and Defense Side Groove designs to promote smooth wear, and a continuous shoulder for even wear and lower rolling resistance.
The FD691 drive tire features a continuous shoulder design, with a “high-rigidity tread pattern to promote long, even wear, helping increase tread life and lower rolling resistance,” Bridgestone said. The tread’s “flow-through design” evacuates water, and the tire’s bead design and sidewall compound “improve fuel efficiency throughout the lifecycle of the casing.”
The FT491 trailer tire features Ulti-Rib and Defense Groove technologies, as well as sidewall protector ribs that help protect the casing from curbing damage and abrasion, and a wider tread to spread loads over a larger area to promote long, smooth wear.
Bridgestone is promoting these tires on the road through the end of the year with its “Firestone Drives America Tour,” the brand’s largest commercial promotion ever, which kicked off in Akron on July 16.
The tour will travel across the country introducing the new Firestone commercial truck tires to small and mid-sized fleets and owner-operators, with more than 20 stops at various Minor League Baseball ballparks this summer, as well as NCAA Football games this fall.
The tour also will display the custom Firestone Edition Class 8 truck and quad-cab truck that will be given away at the 2014 Mid-America Trucking Show after the conclusion of the national “Drive a Firestone” sweepstakes. Fleet customers and Firestone dealers will have the chance to enter this sweepstakes to win a “Firestone truck.”