NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Bridgestone Americas Inc. has launched an ultra-high performance summer tire and improved upon an industry-leading UHP all-season offering for the North American market.
The company showed off the new Potenza Sport UHP summer tire as well as the revamped Potenza RE980 AS-plus during a virtual presentation on Aug. 10.
While the Potenza Sport is all about optimal summer performance and wet handling, the RE980 AS-plus adds winter traction to the mix. The key to both new offerings is the compound, Bridgestone said.
The Potenza Sport is Bridgestone's flagship UHP tire designed to meet the needs of a global high-performance market. The company said, ultimately, the tire's aim is to improve upon the whole experience of driving a high performance vehicle.
"Our team across Europe and the U.S., partnered together to make sure this tire delivered exactly what drivers of sports cars wanted—the ultimate in handling and control," said Dale Harrigle, chief engineer of consumer replacement tires.
"This is made possible with new mixing technologies used to produce our next-generation ultra-high silica compound, which is the key to unlocking the Potenza Sport's performance characteristics."
Along with extensive testing in Europe, the company also worked with tire dealers in the U.S. to improve the product.
The Potenza Sport provides "confident grip and responsive handling," said Merritt Gilbert, director of consumer marketing operations. While also offering peak UHP performance, what makes the Sport stand out is its improved response on wet surfaces, she said.
During the presentation, several tests drives showed off the new tires. In one test, a vehicle drove around in a circle on a wet track to test the maximum grip the tire could hold on the radius before sliding. During the demonstration, the Potenza Sport gave up grip at 31 mph, while a competitor, the Michelin Pilot Sport, started to slide at 28 mph.
The Potenza Sport has earned original equipment fitments on the Maserati MC20 and Lamborgini Hurcån STO.
The tread pattern geometry initially was optimized for the tire's footprint or "contact pressure" and for water evacuation "when accelerating or breaking in wet conditions," Jeff Cook, executive director of strategy and production portfolio planning, said. The tire was then honed to reduce road noise and vibration.
"The Bridgestone Potenza Sport is an outstanding new ultra-high performance summer tire. In fact, the Potenza Sport already is receiving impressive accolades in the European market, where it outperformed the competition," Cook said.
The Potenza Sport launches in 65 sizes covering 18- to 22-inch rim diameters, which Bridgestone said represents around 96 percent of fitments in these sizes in the U.S market.
Bridgestone also unveiled the Potenza RE980 AS-plus, a revamped all-season UHP that brings added winter traction to a competitive all-season UHP market.
With the RE980 AS-plus, the company "reimagined and rebalanced a tire already performing at a high level," Ms. Garritt said, referring to the original RE980 AS.
The tread pattern of the new Potenza RE980 AS-plus is the same as the original RE980 AS introduced in 2018, but the AS-plus is made from the new compound also used in the Potenza Sport. The result, Harrigle said, "adds a next-level balance of winter traction and grip" to a tire already optimized for high performance handling in wet conditions.
The tire's 3-D sipes are designed to maintain performance throughout the life of the tire.
The company said internal testing showed the AS-plus stopped 13 feet shorter in snow than leading competitors.
"When it comes to these tires in this category, the Potenza Sport and AS-plus are setting a new standard in high performances," a company official said.
Both tires are now available for order and eligible for second-half 2021 Bridgestone promotions.