Bridgestone South Africa has announced a new addition to its Firestone FS404 range of heavy duty vehicle tyres. Initially available only in 315/80 R22.5 sizing, the FS404 is now also available in a 12 R22.5 option. The FS404 is optimised for duty on steer, drive and trailer axles, and is able to deliver exceptional mileage and durability, in original life and also further retreading life. “As FS404 shows superior wear and irregular wear resistances as well as durability on 315/80R22.5, we have no doubt in the performance.” said Bridgestone Commercial General Manager Marketing, Tony Burns. Now, with the new 12 R 22.5 option available, the FS404 opens these wear and durability benefits up to a wider market of fleet owners and operators.” Some of the main contributors to the FS404's wear resistance are equaliser ribs in the tread pattern which reduce the effects of irregular wear, and stone ejectors which give greater resistance against stone trapping, reducing damage to the tread surface and steel belt package. The sophisticated tread design provides better steering response and aquaplaning resistance. Burns said that the growth of the FS404 range would solidify the Bridgestone Group's position in the truck and bus radial (TBR) market. “Bridgestone is currently the only tyre maker to manufacture TBRs in South Africa,” he explained. “The company performs ongoing research to optimise the manufacture of tyres which perform better in South Africa's demanding operating conditions with their wide temperature ranges and challenging road surfaces.” Burns also said that with the production facility closer to the customer, quicker reaction to customer needs is possible than is the case when tyres must be imported with the resulting long lead times. Bridgestone has two factories in South Africa, one in Port Elizabeth, employing over 350 people, while the Brits factory in the North West Province employs over 850 people, representing thousands more dependants. Our manufacturing operations contribute greatly to the economic wellbeing, both directly to our employees and their families, and more broadly by releasing disposable income into the economy of the Port Elizabeth and Brits areas, “Burns explained. Bridgestone's TBRs are distributed through Bridgestone South Africa Commercial which provides numerous services including tyre management and monitoring systems. “A tyre like the FS404 will spend its initial service life on the steering or drive axles and then be moved to a trailer or kept on a drive axle once it is re-treaded,” Burns said. “Ongoing monitoring is essential to prevent shortened service life due to factors like under-inflation or lack of adequate maintenance,” he commented. He said that South Africa was a growth market for Bridgestone internationally, and more TBR products were scheduled to be launched in the early part of 2017. “Bridgestone's local manufacturing capacity for the heavy duty market will stand us in good stead into the future,” he concluded.