In late October, three lucky winners of a contest organized by Bridgestone and AutoBild – a leading German car magazine – were invited to take part in a journey from Munich to Rome in the new all-electric BMW i3 and hybrid BMW i8 sports cars. The cars were kitted out with specially developed tyres and were put through their paces under a variety of different road conditions. Bridgestone is the exclusive supplier of tyres for the compact electric BMW i3 and the sporty BMW i8 with its revolutionary electric-hybrid drive system.
The starting point for the 4 day adventure was BMW Welt in Munich. It was a first for the German Alpine adventurers Claudia Wohl from Stemwede, Oliver Widmann from Freudenstadt and Christian Lorenz from Laudenbach who had never driven an electric car before.
The goal for the first day was to reach Zell am See, roughly 170 km from Munich. “At the start you tend to look at the display quite a lot to check the vehicle's range. But after a while you get used to it and it stops being an issue”, said our test driver Christian Lorenz at the end of the first day.
The second stage of the journey saw the drivers travel 325 km past Zell am See towards the town of Mira, near Venice. The twists and turns of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road provided a great opportunity to test the electric cars' handling in winter conditions. To ensure enough grip in the snow and on wet roads, the BMW i3 was fitted with Blizzak LM-500 and the BMW i8 was fitted with Blizzak LM-32 winter tyres.
The third day of the Hannibal Tour 2014 was the longest of all and saw the drivers travel some 600 km. Heading out from Mira with fully charged batteries towards Florence some 260 km away, the drivers took a break before covering the 340 km to Rocca di Papa, a picturesque town southeast of Rome.
The final day posed a particular challenge for our intrepid drivers: the chaotic traffic in Rome. But this is where an electric car comes into its own and the cars reached their final destination of the Hannibal Tour, the Colosseum.
The conclusion of this exciting tour was a visit to Bridgestone’s European Proving Ground test track in Aprilia. The different test courses gave our drivers the opportunity to experience the difference between summer and winter tyres for themselves. Bridgestone developed a special tyre with Ologic technology for the BMW i3. This tyre combines the benefits of a large tyre diameter with a narrow width tyre. The result of this development is the Ecopia EP500, a summer tyre with substantial improvements in aerodynamics and roll resistance while at the same time providing exceptional grip in the wet. For the hybrid electric sports car BMW i8 Bridgestone developed the Potenza S001, a summer tyre that offers the highest levels of efficiency and driving dynamics. Bridgestone, the number one tyre and rubber manufacturer in the world, has a 100% factory fitment on both vehicles.
After travelling round the 4 km high speed oval track in the passenger seat of the BMW i8 being driven by former F1 driver and current Bridgestone test driver Stefano Modena, all three testers had the time of their lives: “Drifting around corners at 180 km/h was really impressive. At that speed, steering a car diagonally is sheer madness and it gave me goose bumps”, said Oliver Widmann after his turn.
Click here for pictures and videos (from AutoBild and Bridgestone) of the Alpine crossing.