Firestone Brand Tire Helps ZAP Alias Electric Car Reach Finals of Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE
Two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr. is behind the wheel
BROOKLYN, Mich. (July 19, 2010) — Electric vehicle pioneer ZAP (OTC BB: ZAAP) rolled through the knockout stage of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE with its Alias automobile piloted by Al Unser Jr. and will move onto the finals July 19-29, thanks in part to the latest generation of Firestone Firehawk ultra high performance tires.
The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE is a global competition that will award $10 million in prizes to teams that win a rigorous stage competition for clean, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPG energy equivalent (MPGe). ZAP is among 15 cars (from 13 teams) that have survived from the original 142 competitors that entered the chase for the X PRIZE.
The ZAP Alias has progressed through the preliminary stages of the international competition at Michigan International Speedway on the all-new Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500 tire – an opportunity that arose through Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO)’s relationship with legendary Indy car driver Al Unser Jr.
“As we made plans for the Automotive X PRIZE competition with Al Unser Jr. behind the wheel, he insisted that he wanted Firestone brand tires on the car,” said Gary Starr, Founder and Director of Business Development, ZAP. “Al brings a lifetime of driving experience to the ZAP team along with a wealth of auto industry contacts. He helped introduce Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations and its Firestone brand to the ZAP Alias, and the tires have been working very well for us.”
Starr and Unser worked with BATO engineers to select the appropriate tire for the competition. The Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500 street tire was designed with a shallow tread depth (“skid”), while still maintaining desired tire performance. This reduced skid offers maximum traction capability (giving the tire its ultra high performance credentials); however it also lowers the tire’s mass, and thus helps to reduce rolling resistance. Low rolling resistance helps increase fuel mileage, which is key to winning the X PRIZE. Proper inflation pressure also contributes to achieving the desired rolling resistance level.
With all of these characteristics, the Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500 tires helped the ZAP Alias progress through the stages of the X PRIZE competition, from the highway efficiency test 34 times around MIS, to the double lane change and the skid pad test run by Consumer Reports. Although some cars struggled with the lane change test in particular, The ZAP Alias, with Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500 tires and Unser behind the wheel, conquered the accident avoidance test in just a few passes.
Watch the ZAP Alias perform these tests on YouTube and Facebook, follow the competition on Twitter, and check out the ZAP Alias Team Blog at zapalias.wordpress.com and the official X PRIZE website at progressiveautoxprize.org.
About Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations:
Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO) is a business unit of Bridgestone Americas, Inc., whose parent company, Bridgestone Corporation, is the world’s largest tire and rubber company. Reporting into the BATO business unit are the company’s Latin American tire operations, the U.S. and Canadian consumer tire businesses and the U.S. and Canadian commercial tire businesses. BATO develops, manufactures and markets Bridgestone, Firestone and associate brand tires. The business unit is focused on retail, wholesale and original equipment markets, supplying passenger, light truck, commercial vehicle, off road, motorcycle, agricultural and other tires to its customers in the Americas. In addition, through its Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions unit, retreading customers have access to industry-leading research and development, manufacturing, marketing and sales expertise, providing them with a total tire solution.
ZAP was founded as a California Corporation on September 23, 1994, in a time where concern for the environment and use of petrol as an energy source was nominal. From its unassuming beginning as an electric bicycle kit manufacturer in the hamlet of Sebastopol California, ZAP has grown into one of the leading global distributors of alternative fuel technology vehicles. ZAP has distributed over 100,000 advanced alternative fuel-efficient vehicles (most of which are electric) to over 75 countries in an effort to supply consumers worldwide with products that are socially responsible and environmentally sustainable. ZAP is determined to become the leading global distribution source for advanced energy management technology and fuel efficient vehicles; with an emphasis on electric drive trains.
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