Mary has over 20 years experience as the editor of our Malaysian sister magazine, The Tyreman. Based in Kuala Lumpur, she writes articles for us on the Malaysian and other South East Asian markets.
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Bridgestone unveiled its new passenger radial Ecopia EP300 tyre recently. Positioned as the next generation eco-tyre, the EP300 offers low rolling resistance and superior wet grip performance while delivering an extended wear life. With the innovative design concept and engineering solutions, EP300 is said to revolutionise and redefine the concept of an eco-tyre by bringing it to the next level as embodied in its tagline ‘When You Want It All’.
The company claimed that demanding drivers that ‘Want it all’ now had in the market a product that would fully meet their expectations.
The EP300, according to the company, was developed at the Bridgestone technical centre in Japan; it was not only tested in Japan but also in Asia-Pacific countries before it was officially launched. This new tyre replaces the EP200 that was launched 4 years ago. Under tests, it was proven to achieve significant fuel savings of up to 2 litres for each full tank compared with conventional tyres. In tests comparing EP300 to the previous generation 2 Ecopia, the results demonstrated that the new technologies and design concept adopted for EP300 helped in achieving improved fuel savings, while offering drivers additional travelling distance of up to 11.2km per tank and a superior wet grip performance for a safer drive.
“Most drivers desire a way to achieve better fuel efficiency that translates into fuel savings. However, despite how careful drivers can be on the accelerator, if a vehicle is not equipped with the optimum eco-tyres, achieving good fuel efficiency and economy will be a challenge,” commented Tai Kawasaki, Managing Director of Bridgestone Asia Pacific Technical Center. “With the new Ecopia EP300, we aim to give drivers the best possible return from their vehicles while allowing them to do their part for the environment, as lower rolling resistance brings reduced CO2 emissions.”
The wet grip of the EP300 is enhanced, thanks to its NanoPro-Tech with a new polymer that grips wet road surfaces with higher frictional force at the micro-level. The new tread pattern contributes to anti-hydroplaning performance, better handling and reduced noise. In addition, the new tyre features deeper lug depth on the shoulder to increase durability and wear resistance. With the new tread design, better control of tyre deformation is achieved, and its uniform wear pattern provides long lasting tyre life.
Behind the Wheel at TBPG
Earlier before the Malaysian launch, The Tyreman was invited by Bridgestone Singapore to test the new tyre on 26th May at the Thai Bridgestone Proving Ground (TBPG). Apart from the selected media from Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, India and Hong Kong, the event was also attended by the distributors.
Located in Ayutthaya about 1 hour from Bangkok, the TBPG is one of the 5 Bridgestone proving grounds in Asia. The other locations are in Indonesia, China and Japan (2 proving grounds).
TBPG was opened in January 2009 with a site area of 526,194 square metres and the main circuit is 3.3km.
There were 5 tests arranged for us; the first was a Free Rolling demonstration by TBPG drivers to show rolling resistance, followed by the second test, which was a Wet Braking demonstration by the same TBPG drivers. The third test, Wet Grip (to be driven by participants) used the skid pad section and the fourth routine was Wet Handling (to be experienced as a passenger) using the wet handling course. The last test was supposed to be General Performance (to be driven by participants) using the main circuit but it was cancelled due to the rain. The first 2 tests were done before the rain started.
During the first test, 3 Toyota Camry 2.0Gs were used; one was fitted with EP300, a second with EP200 and the third ran on a competitor eco tyre. The tyre size was 215/60 R16.
All 3 cars took off together and accelerated until they reached 50km/h, then the drivers lifted off the accelerator and the cars were left to roll freely. The first car coming to a complete stop was the one fitted with the competitor tyres, followed closely by the one running on EP200. The Camry with EP300 continued to roll a lot further to demonstrate its superior rolling resistance properties.
In the wet braking demonstration, the 3 cars were driven by the same TBPG drivers. The driver in the respective car accelerated to 80km/h and hit the brakes when he reached the designated spot on the wet area. EP300 proved its superior wet braking performance with the shortest braking distance compared to the other 2 tyres. The green flag showed the EP300 position, the red flag indicated EP200 and the cone without flag was for the competitor’s eco tyre.
The third test was supposed to involve participants driving the cars using the skid pad section. Due to the heavy rain, it was decided that they would enjoy the experience as passengers with the TBPG drivers at the wheel for safety reasons.
The wet skid pad area was a 50-metre radius roundabout and we were driven a few rounds on it at a constant speed of 60km/h. The driver was always in control of the car despite the heavy rain and extremely wet surface, which displayed the excellent wet grip performance of the new EP300. There was not even a slight indication that the tyres were going to skid.
This was followed by the wet handling test, which we also experienced as a passenger on the wet handling course. The course is 900 metres long with a few curves and bends as well as sharp corners. The same car was driven by the TBPG driver using EP300. Going into the corners at 70-80km/h, the EP300 gripped the ground firmly, which was very assuring to the passengers as it was still raining.
Ecopia EP300 is available in 13 different sizes of 15 and 16 inches as well as a single size in 17 inch. Prices range from RM180 to RM450, including GST. The majority of sizes are produced in Bridgestone plants in Thailand with a few sizes from its Indonesia and Vietnam plants.
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