Bridgestone Corp.'s new "airless tires" technology is coming to vehicles soon—but probably not in the way auto makers assume.
The Japanese manufacturer wants to get its technology into the hands of commercial truck owners rather than onto ordinary passenger vehicles.
The tires use a recycled thermoplastic "web" as their core, replacing the pressurized air of traditional tires. Bridgestone said it has developed and is preparing to market large tires that can support 5,000 pounds of weight.
The company first plans to launch a much smaller and lighter version of them on ordinary bicycles, providing a fleet of airless-tire bikes at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, where Bridgestone is the official tire maker.
Bridgestone will, more or less, skip over the world's passenger vehicle market and dive into producing the tires for commercial trucks, according to Jon Kempel, executive director for new mobility solution engineering at Bridgestone Americas.
It's not so much a question of where the volume is, Kempel explained, it's a matter of where the need is.
And where the interest is.