We talk to Lennard Kwek, Head of Marketing – Bridgestone Asia Pacific & China, to find out more about the five trends defining today’s tyre industry.
TopGear Singapore (TGS): Tell us more about the key trends that define today’s tyre industry?
Lennard Kwek (LK): As new mobility technologies emerge, tyres continue to hold a pivotal role in vehicle transformation. Tyres – the ‘feet’ of the vehicle and its only connection to the road – are a prime enabler of a driver’s journey, even as advanced mobility solutions and digital technologies transform the driver experience.
At Bridgestone, we’ve identified five trends as tone-setters for the industry moving forward. These are: Alternative tyre innovations, the increased use of High Rim Diameter (HRD) tyres, an increasing pressure to reduce CO2 emissions and drive circular economy (ELT) in the automotive sector, an increasing demand for Electric Vehicle (EV) tyres and Driving Digitalisation, as tyres ‘go’ techie
TGS: What do you mean by alternative tyre innovations?
LK: As Bridgestone focuses on transforming into a sustainable solutions company, tyres are, and will continue to be a key foundational component of the business. We constantly pursue the improvement of materials used in our tyres, tyre design and construction, as well as advancements in smart-tyre technology.
For instance, air free tyres crafted from recyclable resins and rubbers protect against punctures, and smart strain sensor technology uses the Internet of Things (IoT) technology to monitor tyre health and identify when maintenance is required.
TGS: You mentioned an increased shift to high rim diameter tyres, how will this trend impact the tyre industry?
LK: Cars with large rims have grown in popularity, because car owners appreciate the enhanced aesthetics and the overall sportier appearance offered by High Rim Diameter tyres.
However, the advantages of larger tyres extend beyond mere aesthetics. The low-profile sidewalls of HRD tyres help decrease tyre sway for more stability and safety on the road. Drivers may see the effects of HRD tyres through shorter braking distances and improved grip, especially in the wet.
TGS: For Bridgestone, what are the ramifications of the increased pressure to reduce CO2 emissions and driving circular economy (ELT) in the supply chain?
LK: To combat the challenges that climate change poses, governments across APAC continue to pass more stringent regulations to curb CO2 emissions and other contributors. We welcome these moves, as these regulations resonate with our vision to be a sustainable solutions company, which means implementing sustainable and responsible practices that span the range of the supply chain.
Through the brand’s ‘A Layered Journey’ sustainability campaign and the Bridgestone Sustainability Business Framework, we’re enacting changes that combat emissions while giving back to society. For example, Bridgestone has partnered with the Tyrewise project to ensure the proper disposal of end-of-life tyres.
Our new Milestone 2030 introduced a new set of mid-term environmental targets to be accomplished by that year. This aims to accelerate our actions toward improving the overall efficiency of natural resource utilisation, to further reduce our environmental impact and achieve our long-term environmental vision toward 2050 and beyond.
TGS: Given the trending market shift from internal combustion engines towards alternative electrified drivetrains, have you seen an increased demand for Electric Vehicle (EV) tyres?
LK: Currently, EVs are a growing force in Southeast Asia. According to the International Renewable Energy Association, EVs are predicted to make up at least one-fifth of the vehicles on the roads in Southeast Asia by 2040.
To support their vision for more sustainable economies, governments are meeting growing demand for such vehicles with complementary policies, as well as introducing the infrastructure to support more EVs.
Bridgestone continues to pursue innovations in tyre design to suit the unique characteristics of EVs. We have collaborated with Volkswagen to design the groundbreaking ENLITEN lightweight tyre technology for its new all-electric ID.3. ENLITEN’s technology has low rolling resistance and is up to 2kg lighter, which helps conserve battery power.
TGS: With the constantly improving driver assisted technologies, how does Bridgestone plan to dive into the digitalisation aspect of it all?
LK: Pivotal technological innovations from the past decade such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain continue to find new and numerous applications in the automotive sector. With the integration of AI and IoT technologies, CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric) vehicles are attracting more attention and demand.
TGS: What are some of the things that Bridgestone has in store for us?
LK: Well, it’s quite a list, but I’ll try to run-through a few of them!
Smart Strain Sensor is a first-of-its-kind IoT technology that allows vehicles to measure strain between the tyre and road, and record data at slow speeds – a fundamental differentiator for autonomous vehicles which prioritises passenger and pedestrian safety.
Bridgestone’s trademark Tirematics fleet solution utilises our connected tyre solutions to create an IT system with sensors that remotely monitor, transmit and analyse real-time information, such as tyre pressure and temperature of commercial trucks and buses.
Webfleet is a software-as-a-Service solution used by businesses to improve vehicle performance, save fuel, support drivers and increase overall fleet efficiency.
iTrack is the brand’s tyre management platform, which monitors tyre temperature and pressure, as well as provides customisable geofencing, speed alerts and more, to help businesses optimise operations, as well as increase productivity and profitability.
Bridgestone World is an interactive city simulator that enables users to experience our innovations in urban, suburban, industrial and transport settings, as well as explore how our network of connected products and data-driven services can improve the mobility experience and create greater customer and social value.