Data are the new rubber
Bridgestone is primarily known as a tire manufacturer and firmly believes in the ‘mobility as a service’ principle. This is why the research department is increasingly interested in collecting data.
Bridgestone has a major European development center in Rome with 580 employees. Thirty kilometers away, in Aprilia, lies a test circuit of the tire manufacturer.
“Testing is essential for the development of tires,” says Emilio Tiberio, Bridgestone chief technology officer. “We need a lot of data to fine-tune our prototypes. Our research has to be done close to the market. Different climate conditions require different types of tires.”
When it comes to tires, Bridgestone innovates mainly by reducing weight. This ‘Enlighten’ technology makes a tire up to 10% lighter and lowers rolling resistance by an average of 20%. In this way, less raw materials are needed. Moreover, it reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Bridgestone believes in the evolution of ‘mobility as a service’ (MaaS) and is also working on solutions for independent mobility and digitization.
“We equip our tires with sensors, and those data are used to predict maintenance.” Since 2019, the Bridgestone tires have been fitted with an RFID chip. This electronic identification is a first step toward the connected tire being monitored by the internet-of-things.
Monthly fee for tires
Recently, Mobox was launched, a tire service for only 7 euros per month. The formula has already been launched in France, is being tested in Spain, and will be introduced in Italy and Germany after the summer. Testing is also done with the Fleetpulse app, which remotely monitors tire pressure.
The market is evolving from car owners to car users. The vehicles are increasingly leased and shared, making fleet management more critical. Earlier this year, Bridgestone Europe acquired TomTom Telematics for 910 million euros.
“Only 15% of the fleet is equipped with such systems, but the market is growing by 15% annually,” Tiberio adds. “Therefore, it is logical that tire manufacturers take over data companies.”
Last month, competitor Michelin announced the acquisition of Masternaut, a telematics player in France and the United Kingdom.