Much has been made about the tall narrow tires on the BMW i3. They are really unlike any tire on any other car currently in production and they certainly don't look like they belong on a BMW. However BMW and Bridgestone did their homework on this, and accomplished the goals they set out to. That was to develop a tire that is not only efficient, but also delivers the performance expected of any BMW.
*Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on Tom's "The Electric BMW i3" blog. Check it out by clicking here.
How did they do it? Ologic technology. Yep, they developed something so new and advanced you have never even heard of it before! So while I as the Geneva Motor Show a few weeks ago, I made it a point to stop by the Bridgestone exhibit to ask about this new mysterious "Ologic Tech". As I approached the Bridgestone area, I could see they had a Capparis White i3 on display with it all lettered up promoting this new Ologic technology, and they even had an award in a case next to it that proudly displayed that Bridgestone won the 2014 Tire Technology International award for Tire Technology of the year! Fantastic! I was even more pumped up to find out what this new Ologic technology was. Could it be a new special rubber compound or tread pattern? I was about to find out.
So after asking the information desk for someone to interview I was introduced to a Brigestone product manager to answer my questions. I didn't waste any time. My first question was: What exactly is Ologic technology? I don't have the exact words he used but to paraphrase he basically said "Ologic Technology is our way of creating an efficient tire that still offers optimum performance. By using a very tall narrow tire we simultaneously reduce drag, rolling resistance and tire deformation. The height of the tire in relation to the width also increases the contact patch which allows for retain the dynamic driving characteristics of a much wider tire" So Ologic is just a name of a concept, not any specific rubber compound or such? Yes. Alright well that was a little let down because I figured I was going to get a lesson on rubber or tread or something other than what I heard.
So why are they so special? They must have done something right to win the Tire Technology of the Year award, no? Here is an excerpt of how Bridgestone explains why these are indeed special:
A Unique Concept for a Unique Car
BMW has achieved a genuine milestone with the i3 electric car. Doing justice to its unprecedented levels of both efficiency and performance demanded more than just a new tyre but an entire new tyre concept. Bridgestone’s answer came in the form of the ologic technology, which capitalises on the synergies of a large diameter coupled with a narrow tread design. The result is a tyre that delivers significant improvements in aerodynamics and rolling resistance, while still offering outstanding grip in wet weather conditions.
Combining a large diameter with a narrow tread pattern has several advantages. While the tread on smaller diameter tyres is typically inclined to excessive movement or “deformation” during driving, the larger diameter and higher belt tension significantly reduce tyre deformation and therefore conserve energy that is otherwise lost through internal friction which helps to reduce rolling resistance. By the same token, the narrow tread concept improves aerodynamics. The most spectacular achievement, however is that these improvements do not involve a trade-off in terms of safety. The tyre’s long contact patch (relative to its narrow width), revolutionary tread design and compound still ensure outstanding grip in both wet and dry conditions.
They have obviously done something right because even though they look like they would be better suited on a motorcycle, the i3 handles exceptionally with them. I've spoken to quite a few people now that have had an i3 on a race track and all of them were genuinely surprised at how well the car performed. In a few weeks I should be taking delivery of my i3 and I can the really put the "Ologic Technology" to the test.
BMW i3 Tires