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Continental Aims to Keep Motorists Rolling

As we move toward the switch to winter tires, Continental Hungaria Kft. CEO Dániel Rábai looks at some of the issues around tire choice.  

Dániel Rábai, CEO, Continental Hungaria Kft.

When it comes to tire choice, people often settle for the cheapest option. Why might this be a bad idea?

Car owners often look at purchasing tires only as a necessary investment, but what they usually forget is that their decision has an impact on a surface with a size of four palms, where the wheels make contact with the asphalt. So, they must take into account other features as well, apart from the price. The so called “cheapest option” today means buying imported tires from the Far East. It could also mean grey imported tires bought via the internet from unknown sources.

In the light of this, we recommend drivers focus on safety first, instead of worrying about their wallet. That means choosing tires with excellent grip and braking performance, but low rolling resistance is also an important feature. Car owners should not forget that with a good choice they ensure the safety of their loved ones. According to the Vision Zero Initiative of Continental, we would like to decrease the number of fatal accidents on public roads to zero; we therefore consider car owners as our partners in reaching this target. 

Is it possible to source sustainable tires?

Sustainable tires pose an important question at the moment. A lot of components can be recycled – for example, nowadays playgrounds are built on rubber sheets which are made from recycled tires. This is one example of how used tires can start a second life. Another example is when granulates made from used tires are recycled into new tires (e.g., industrial or agricultural tires).

Beside this, Continental is working on sustainable tires under the Taraxagum project. Many years ago, our engineers discovered that rubber could be replaced with dandelion residue. We have produced the first test tires made from dandelion and they are still under endurance testing. The so-called Taraxagum tires might change the future of the tire segment, because tires could be produced without rubber from the rubber tree. In this way, the sector could save a huge amount in transport costs.

When it comes to tire development, what are the latest technologies and trends?

If we look at the trends we see that alternative powertrains might change the expectations of car producers regarding tires. For example, electric vehicles might need tires with a narrow tread width, while zero-emission cars must have tires with extreme low rolling resistance. We also know that tires for electric-powered vehicles will have a higher diameter.

Strong demand to develop intelligent tires represents a significant trend today. This means that the driver can receive actual information inside the car about the tire’s tread depth or temperature. At the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show, Continental introduced two technology concepts, ContiSense and ContiAdapt.

Drivers will soon have to consider switching to their winter tires. What should they look out for?

The best solution in winter conditions is the use of winter tires. When the external temperature permanently falls under 7ºC (45ºF), summer tires should be changed for winter tires. Within these conditions, roads can be icy and slippery; winter tires provide better grip and braking performance. Also, the rubber in the summer tires can become more rigid at lower temperatures.

In Hungary, due to the climate conditions, it is recommended to choose tires that perform excellently on wet and icy road surfaces. It is also a significant aspect that drivers should choose tires according to the performance of their car. Usually it is recommended to buy a slightly better tire than how the car performs in terms of speed and other attributes.