You may have seen the commercials for Bridgestone’s new Ecopia Tires, some of them featuring a beatific Leonardo DiCaprio cruising through a forest or reaching into the air to catch a gently falling tire (bizarre…). While pretty, these ads really don’t tell you anything about the product. They look just like other tires and putting them in a peaceful, natural setting isn’t going to convince anyone that they have special environmental properties. However, the purportedly eco-friendly tires were unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show back in February to rave reviews, and have since received accolades from satisfied customers. So what makes them eco-friendly and what is the added value to consumers who may otherwise pass up a green product?
What Bridgestone promises with the Ecopia line of tires is as follows: better fuel economy without additional wear or loss of performance, and low rolling resistance for fuel-efficient vehicles (takes less energy to engage tires and keep them going). In short, you’ll get the same traction, handling, and comfort of other Bridgestone tires (plus reduced road noise) while cutting back on fuel (with a reported 36% decrease in rolling resistance…Michelin’s HydroEdge GreenX line claims only a 10% decrease), all of which leads to reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Here’s how it’s done. The Ecopia line utilizes Bridgestone’s unique NanoPro Technology to create a tread compound specifically engineered to reduce energy loss without sacrificing traction (the low rolling resistance noted above). The tread features rib-linked blocks and lateral grooves to ensure wet-weather braking while 3D curves on the surface work to cut road noise. They also claim that drivers who opt for Ecopia tires could save somewhere in the neighborhood of $50-$100 dollars on fuel in the course of a year (dependent on gas prices), as opposed to using other Bridgestone tires. So far, so good.
But are these green tires too good to be true? Not according to customer reviews. Despite a slight increase in price, consumers, by all accounts, seem to be overwhelmingly in favor of the latest rollout in green tech for cars, noting a definite decline in road noise and no noticeable change in handling or braking, although there doesn’t seem to be much input on the supposed savings to be had at the pump. The only downside appears to be a bumpier ride at the recommended level of inflation, which can be rendered obsolete by letting a little air out of the tires (just keep in mind that this will decrease the environmental benefits offered by these tires).
So for consumers looking to enhance an already eco-friendly automobile (or even an SUV) the Ecopia line of tires looks legit. However, it never hurts to comparison shop to see what other options are available, since the race to go green seems to deliver new and better products every day.