Tyre Talk with Continental #1: Developing the perfect tyre
PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa, 6 November 2020 – Tyres are the critical point of contact between your car and the road, and are responsible for transmitting the vehicle’s acceleration, braking and steering inputs to the road surface. The selection of the components and rubber compounds that go into a tyre, along with the quality of the production process, is what shapes its performance and determines its life span.
On dry surfaces, the grip is primarily down to the right rubber compound, with the design of the tread pattern being a secondary consideration. In the wet, the situation is reversed, with the right tread pattern being the crucial aspect in order to effectively disperse water and keep the tyre in contact with the road.
Tyres with low rolling resistance are the most energy-efficient. This means less power, and therefore less fuel, is required to move the vehicle forward. However, a zero rolling resistance would mean having a tyre that offers very little cornering grip or braking ability, and poor ride quality.
The fine art of tyre development lies in finding a harmonious balance between the desired improvements in one characteristic and those opposed to it, ultimately attaining the best possible compromise between the conflicting interests of wet and dry grip, durability, noise and rolling resistance. On occasion, one of these parameters is given precedence over another to suit the desired performance characteristics of the vehicle application.
Continental’s SportContact 6 ultra-high-performance tyre, for example, prioritises exceptional grip and steering responsiveness for high-powered sportscars. It uses the tyre manufacturer’s cutting-edge Black Chili tyre compound, a reinforced construction with Aralon 350 synthetic fibre, and a specially designed Force Vectoring tread pattern developed to maximise cornering grip.
The PremiumContact 6, by comparison, is developed to provide outstanding wet and dry braking performance, sure-footed handling and uncompromising safety, while the EcoContact range is oriented towards low rolling resistance, fuel economy, reduced noise and enhanced mileage.
All Continental innovations have to pass an intense testing regime before going into production, and each new tyre has to complete exhaustive testing at its main test site, Contidrom in Germany. A total of 140 000 tyres are tested every year in all types of driving conditions. Typically, Continental test drivers amass a mileage that would see them circling the globe 500 times. Critical real-world driving scenarios such as wet and dry handling, wet and dry braking, aquaplaning, noise levels and rolling resistance are thoroughly tested during tyre development.
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Continental develops pioneering technologies and services for sustainable and connected mobility of people and their goods. Founded in 1871, the technology company offers safe, efficient, intelligent, and affordable solutions for vehicles, machines, traffic and transportation. In 2019, Continental generated sales of €44.5 billion and currently employs more than 232,000 people in 59 countries and markets.
The Tires business area has 24 production and development locations worldwide. Continental is one of the leading tire manufacturers with more than 56,000 employees and posted sales of €11.7 billion in 2019 in this business area. Continental ranks among the technology leaders in tire production and offers a broad product range for passenger cars, commercial and special vehicles, as well as two-wheelers. Through continuous investment in research & development, Continental makes a major contribution to safe, cost-effective and ecologically efficient mobility. The portfolio of the Tires business area includes services for the tire trade and fleet applications, as well as digital management systems for tires.
Continental Tyre South Africa (CTSA) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Continental AG in Germany. As the only Continental tyre plant in Africa, it produces original equipment (OE) tyres for all seven local vehicle manufacturers, as well as for the replacement sector. CTSA’s distribution network in the replacement market is through ContiTrade Africa, which runs the BestDrive franchise and company-owned stores. There are currently over 150 BestDrive franchise fitment centres across South Africa. The company employs more than 1 000 people, with its Sales and Marketing organisation, as well as the Manufacturing facility, all located at its Port Elizabeth plant in Nelson Mandela Bay.
PR and Communications Manager
Continental Tyre SA (Pty) Ltd
Phone: +27 41 406 5640
e-Fax: 086 440 0309
Mobile: +27 83 656 9172