Bridgestone’s radical new “airless tires” technology is coming to vehicles soon — but probably not in the way automakers 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. The company 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 tiremaker.

But it will then more or less skip over the world’s passenger-vehicle market and instead dive into producing the tires for commercial trucks, according to Jon Kimpel, executive director for new mobility solution engineering at Bridgestone Americas. It’s not so much a question of where the volume is, Kimpel explained — it’s a matter of where the need is. And also the interest.

Truck fleet operators are driving the new technology.

“Fleet operators are asking us for these,” Kimpel told Automotive News. “This technology solves a problem for them and it saves them money. Their job is to keep their trucks on the road, and you can’t do that when your tires are not properly inflated.

“On the truck side,” he added, “there’s an air-related issue every 8,000 miles. If they’ve got a truck that’s not running, it’s costing them money.”

Japan-based Bridgestone ranks among the world’s largest tire producers. Last year, it manufactured an estimated 180 million tires. The global truck market is smaller than the original-equipment passenger-vehicle market. But Kimpel said that trucking is still a substantial business that needs innovative solutions.

Source: Automotive News

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While the subject of road rage is often grist for comedians’ monologues, it’s no laughing matter if you’re on the receiving end of it. 

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once over a one-year period. The AAA estimates that over half of fatal crashes studied during a five-year period studied could be attributed to a driver’s aggressive behavior.

One report claims that road rage at this time of the year rises by 200 percent due to holiday-related stress.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines road rage as, “The operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” There’s even a medical term for those who vent their fury upon other motorists, “intermittent explosive disorder,” and it’s estimated to affect as many as 16 million Americans, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

A new study conducted by the insurance website The Zebra determined that, not surprisingly, the most common aggressive road rage behavior is honking a vehicle’s horn to express anger or frustration, with 59 percent of respondents admitting to the practice. Other prevalent hostile actions include changing lanes without signaling (45 percent), and yelling/cursing at another driver or pedestrian (42 percent). 

Tailgating was found to make motorists the angriest at 44 percent, followed by distracted driving (42 percent), getting cut off (33 percent), driving too slow (30 percent), and not using turn signals (28 percent).

Seven percent of motorists queried admit to having left their vehicles to confront another driver in the past year, with six percent saying they’ve gotten into a physical confrontation. Perhaps adding fuel to the proverbial fire, The Zebra found that 46 percent of motorists admit to keeping a weapon in their car for personal protection (a knife, pepper spray, a club, etc), with seven percent saying they pack a gun while driving.

While 14 states have passed laws against “aggressive driving,” only one, California, has a bona fide road rage bill on the books. The financial consequences of getting caught driving recklessly can be debilitating. In addition to paying fines and court costs, The Zebra found that motorists being cited for reckless driving will see their annual insurance premiums skyrocket by an average of 70 percent ($1,034), and as much as 390 percent ($4,220) in some states. 

Experts say the best way to respond when another driver seems to be venting his or her anger in your direction is not to react at all. If another driver cuts you off or is otherwise driving aggressively, slow down and give them room to pass. Do not respond with obscene gestures or equally hostile actions. If you inadvertently cut off another driver, try to apologize by making a suitable hand gesture.

If you feel you’re in danger because of another driver’s actions, use a cell phone to call police or drive to a police station if there’s one within proximity to get law enforcement involved. Never exit your vehicle to confront the other person if you’re at a traffic signal or are otherwise stopped.

Let’s make this a noteworthy holiday season for all the right reasons.

Sources: Forbes, The Zebra

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Alpharetta, GA. (Nov. 18, 2019) – LeasePlan USA, a global leader in fleet management and driver mobility services, today launched a unique new platform further evolving its telematics value proposition into a new frontier in fleet management. OneConnect is a new Connected Vehicle cloud platform that merges real-time raw data from vehicles on the road with proprietary LeasePlan fleet management data providing the best 360-degree view of overall fleet performance and driver behavior.

“OneConnect provides a window into never before-seen fleet insights,” said Felipe Smolka, executive vice president of transformation, who leads on strategy and innovation at LeasePlan USA. “The uniqueness of our new approach lands a fresh flavor on how to look at a fleet, as we now have the opportunity to marry all relevant data points into one single pane of glass.”

The platform aligns with existing LeasePlan innovations such as the MyLeasePlan mobile app, virtual assistant Elle and OneScore to help fleet managers take more control over driver behavior, route mapping, risk and most importantly – safety. Driver safety and efficiency mark the cornerstones of this exciting new product.

“The aim is to provide our clients with the tools they need to maintain a one-to-one connection with their drivers regardless of fleet size. OneConnect allows them to do this seamlessly and in a digital way”, said James Brand, product manager, LeasePlan. “We know risky behavior leads to higher TCO.”

Geotab, a global telematics leader, partnered with LeasePlan to provide access to high-quality data using Geotab’s open-platform API for the OneConnect platform. “Finding ways to improve road safety and efficiency has always been a top priority for Geotab,” stated Geotab CEO Neil Cawse. “Solutions such as LeasePlan’s OneConnect can enable better data-driven decision making to help businesses better manage their fleets through improved visibility into both their vehicles and drivers.”

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About LeasePlan

LeasePlan is one of the world’s leading Car-as-a-Service companies, with 1.9 million vehicles under management in over 30 countries. Our core business involves managing the entire vehicle life-cycle for our clients, taking care of everything from purchasing and maintenance to car re-marketing. With more than 50 years’ experience, we are a trusted partner for our corporate and mobility service clients. Our mission is to provide what’s next in sustainable mobility via an ‘Any car, Anytime, Anywhere’ service – so our customers can focus on what’s next for them. Find out more at www.leaseplan.com.

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Customer Service Week is a celebration of the importance of customer service and of the people who serve and support our great customers on a daily basis. Customer service professionals play a vital role here at LeasePlan. They are the face of our company and the impressions they make have a lasting and long reaching effect. It is no wonder there is a full week set aside to acknowledge these outstanding professionals and their work!

Here are just a few members of our incredible team:

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