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Solar cars to compete on Bridgestone Eco tyres

Southern Africa

Bridgestone South Africa has announced that four of the teams taking part in the upcoming Sasol Solar Challenge will be driving the race on Bridgestone’s Ecopia with ologic tyres which are optimised for electric vehicle applications.

The race, starting on September 24 in Pretoria and ending in Cape Town on October 1, is run every two years. The 2016 edition will feature a mixture of solar-only and rechargeable electric vehicles competing in five classes. Three of the classes are reserved for vehicles whose sole source of energy is the sun.

“Energy conservation is vital for solar cars and one of the key areas in which energy can be lost is through the rolling resistance of the tyres,” said Bridgestone’s General Manager of Marketing, Tony Burns, “Bridgestone’s Ecopia with ologic tyres are optimised to reduce rolling resistance, making them ideal for electric vehicle applications in which the driving range attainable per unit of energy is of vital importance. They have already been adopted by BMW for its i3 electric car, and are ideal for the Solar Challenge cars.”

The tyre sponsorship initiative, spearheaded by Bridgestone’s Japanese parent company, will see the Ecopia with ologic fitted to the Margalux team which hails from Hungary, the Tokai team (Japan), the Anadolu team (Turkey) and the Lods team from Poland. The South African sponsorship is part of a broader involvement by Bridgestone in promoting the development of new-technology vehicles. A highlight is the demanding World Solar Challenge event, run annually in Australia, in which electric vehicles compete in a route which covers the north-to-south distance of the country.

The Ecopia with ologic reduces rolling resistance by combining a large-diameter, high-inflation pressure design with a specially-tailored structure. The tread pattern is also optimised to take advantage of the unique characteristics of the tyre, and Bridgestone says that the ologic 155/70R19 tyre achieves a 30% reduction in rolling resistance over a conventional 175/65R15. The Ecopia with ologic also sports a 10% reduction in wet road braking distance compared to the conventional tyre.

“As energy prices rise and concern grows over the environmental impact of transport, developments such as Ecopia with ologic will play an increasing role in promoting the acceptance of alternative transport technologies,” Burns said. “The teams we are sponsoring are extremely technically competent, and we’re hopeful our tyres will give them the edge at the finish line,” he concluded.

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