In anticipation of the automotive industry’s shift to EVs, Bridgestone, one of the world’s largest tire manufacturers, will be shifting its focus to the electric vehicle segment of the market. The Japanese company made a bold goal for its future, it plans to have EV tires account for 90 percent of its new automotive tire sales by 2030. This is according to a report by Nikkei Asia.
Bridgestone will stop competing with low-cost brands from China and South Korea as part of the shift. It plans to end budget tire production for gas vehicles in Europe this year. Europe will be the first market to see assembly lines converted to accommodate EV tires. Similar manufacturing conversions will also take place in Japan, the US, and South America down the line.
In time, Bridgestone wants most of the company’s 50 automotive tire factories around the world to be converted for EV tire production.
The Nikkei Asia report states that:
"Tires for EVs are 20% lighter because they use less rubber and other materials, and face 30% less resistance."
Bridgestone has already made gains with legacy automakers that have EVs in production. It supplies Volkswagen’s ID models with tires, and in 2023, the company aims to increase supplies to European brands and launch retail sales for customers.
Bridgestone also has plans to supply tires to Fisker’s upcoming electric SUV that’s supposed to enter production late next year. It also wants to manufacture tires for electric trucks. The Rivian R1T was the first electric truck to enter production earlier this month. The Hummer EV and F-150 Lightning electric trucks are due for production at the end of the year and early next year, respectively.
Fuel-efficient tires for gas vehicles currently make up 80 percent of Bridgestone’s passenger car sales. According to the report, the popularity of low-cost tires from South Korea and China is one reason why the company’s operating margin fell by half to 7 percent in 2020 from five years earlier.
Michelin, another leading global tire maker, already supplies tires for a few automakers that offer EVs.