We head to Bridgestone’s Thailand Proving Grounds to try out their latest set of tyres for the Indian market – the brand new Ecopia range.
The benefit and importance of tyres in a vehicle’s performance is something that’s mostly overlooked by owners. In fact, if more owners paid sufficient attention to the basics of tyre maintenance and took simple steps – such as checking tyre pressures every couple of weeks, as well as getting the wheel alignment of their vehicle checked regularly, it could lead to a big improvement in the fuel consumption of their vehicles – as well as ensuring that tyres last as long as they optimally can.
However, the lack of awareness amongst users hasn’t held back tyre companies from making regular progress and throwing their collective weight behind developing products that aim to optimize the qualities of a tyre – despite the issues of poor road conditions and user negligence in our market. One of the key factors in the improvement of tyre technology in the recent decades has been the innovation of silica construction of tyres and advancements in tyre tread design and profiling.
So, when Bridgestone announced the launch of the its Ecopia range of tyres in the Indian market, we were invited to witness real-time tests of these tyres and assess their advantage over older products from the company, as well as products from their competitors. This meant we were taken to the company’s Thailand Proving Grounds, located on the outskirts of Bangkok. It’s quite an impressive facility. The proving grounds feature multiple test tracks to evaluate tyre performance – including a dedicated wet handling track and braking strip, plus a rough road track, and various other facilities.
At the facility, we got to witness a gamut of tests performed by the company’s test drivers – including a wet surface braking test and a rolling resistance test. We also got to experience a brief drive on the wet weather circuit. Since most of the tests were performed by the company’s own drivers, we weren’t able to independently confirm the results – but the company claims that the new range of Ecopia tyres offer fuel efficiency benefits of between 7-10% depending on the tyre size and application. Most of these benefits come from improved rolling resistance, which is significantly better than the Bridgestone tyre model that the Ecopia replaces. Moreover, according to the company, it outdoes competing tyres from other brands too.
Our driving experience gave us an opportunity to test the tyres on a tight handling circuit, which had a speed limit of 60km/h. This meant that it was close to impossible to push the tyres to their limits. However, from the seat-of-the-pants impression, the tyres seem to handle wet surfaces quite well and appear to be quite silent on tarmac.
Overall, this new offering raises the standard of products available in the Indian market, and gives Indian consumers a modern tyre that improves the efficiency of their vehicle – and therein promises to be eco-friendly too!