Bridgestone Says New Tire Won’t Go Flat For 50 Miles After Losing Air
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ New cars don’t carry extra water pumps, and they shouldn’t have to hold spare tires, says a company that claims its new tire keeps on rolling for 50 miles after running out of air.
Bridgestone-Firestone Inc.’s new ″runflat″ system combines a special rim with a tough tire that the company says eliminates the need for spare tires and roadside tire changes.
Bridgestone, which announced the new tire Wednesday, said the system initially will cost about $5,000 and be available only for Corvette models manufactured since 1987.
″We have spare tires, spare wheels, but you don’t carry spare water pumps. And those have to be replaced nearly as often as tires,″ said Mike Cerio, Bridgestone passenger tire marketing manager.
The tire system is designed to let drivers maintain control of the vehicle despite air loss and continue traveling to a place where tires can be repaired.
The system, which includes special rims, tires and a low pressure warning system, will be available this fall only on customized Calloway Corvettes. Later, Bridgestone plans to move into sports cars, luxury passenger cars and eventually mid-size passenger cars.
″Older people are not too thrilled with the idea of changing tires,″ Cerio said.
Most of the world’s tire makers have been working on runflat systems for years. Bridgestone is the first to develop a system for the U.S. marketplace, Cerio said.
″At this point, it’s a foot in the door,″ he said.
Bridgestone’s system will work on post-1987 Corvettes because those cars already have low pressure warning systems, he said.
The low pressure warning is necessary because, according to Cerio, the tire runs so smoothly that drivers could be unaware of low air pressure.
″We certainly encourage anything that advances the cause of safety. If the tire can sustain damage and still not go flat, we think that’s wonderful,″ said Barry Felrice, associate administrator for rulemaking at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Felrice said Bridgestone-Firestone’s new product apparently exceeded minimum performance standards for tires.
Cerio foresees mass production that would eventually eliminate the need for spare tires.
That, in turn, would allow manufacturers to improve fuel economy with lighter cars and even result in design changes from removing the spare wheel compartment.