Bridgestone says it has engineered tyres specifically for Lightyear One, a product of a Netherlands-based startup that is decribed as the world’s first long-range solar electric vehicle, which is ‘set for commercial availability by the end of this year’.
Lightyear One offers a claimed range of 725km, while being up to three times more energy-efficient versus alternative electric vehicles currently on the market. The vehicle is charged directly by the sun through a large solar roof, minimising CO2 emissions and the charging needs of the user while maximising efficiency.
Lightyear says it has pushed the boundaries of current technology, designing a vehicle that boasts the best aerodynamic coefficient of any production car to date through substantial gains in many different areas of vehicle design. Lightyear sought a tyre that offered very low rolling resistance and weight reduction, in order to preserve battery life, maximise vehicle range, and reduce environmental impact.
Bridgestone developed custom-engineered Turanza Eco tyres for Lightyear One, combining its lightweight ENLITEN and ologic technologies for the very first time. The technologies reduce weight through the use of fewer raw materials throughout the manufacturing process, while ‘cutting rolling resistance through innovative tread, larger diameters, high inflation pressures and slim design’.
The very low rolling resistance of the tyres also means Lightyear One can benefit from a lighter battery. As a result, the Turanza Eco tyres are designed to boost range when compared to alternative Bridgestone EV-specific tyres, equivalent to more than a 90kg reduction in weight. In addition to helping Lightyear One to travel further between charges, the tyre’s silica dispersion has been improved by applying a new mixing technology, there is a 3.6kg (around 10%) overall reduction in the tyre’s weight per vehicle, without any compromise on wear mileage and grip.
For the first time, the Turanza Eco tyres will bear the new Bridgestone EV Marking on the sidewalls. The Bridgestone EV Marking is applied to tyres that are tailor-made for electric vehicles and indicates the tyres underwent a rigorous testing process to receive approval from car manufacturers. As a result, these tyres support the unique features of electric vehicles and meet the car manufacturer requirements for battery range, vehicle control and tyre wear life.
Bridgestone also utilised its Virtual Tyre Development technology which enables accurate modelling of a tyre’s performance without having to physically produce and test it, saving up to 40,000 kilometres in real-life outdoor and fleet testing. It can also cut product development time and outdoor and fleet tyre tests by up to 50 per cent.
The foundation for Lightyear One was laid during the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, a 3,000km race across the Australian Outback that pushes the limits of technological innovation and solar-powered mobility. With this in mind, Bridgestone has been collaborating with Eindhoven Technical University and the people behind Lightyear for eight years. Solar Team Eindhoven, the birth ground of Lightyear, won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge’s Cruiser Cup four consecutive times, from 2016-2019.
Emilio Tiberio, COO & CTO of Bridgestone EMIA, says: “Lightyear have impressed with their approach to sustainable mobility ever since we saw the team take on the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, and so we’re excited to play a part in the Lightyear One project. Bridgestone is committed to a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 and 100% sustainable materials by 2050 and strategic partnerships are fundamental to achieving these goals.”
Lex Hoefsloot, CEO of Lightyear, adds: “We’re particularly happy to see this collaboration between Bridgestone and Lightyear, with two companies that share a vision for future sustainable mobility coming together. The world is already experiencing unprecedented change and challenges, and through innovation and cutting-edge technologies we can work together to grasp the opportunities head on and create a more sustainable world.”