Continental 2 Series Commercial Tyre: More Details
As previously published on Tyrepress.com, Continental has launched a new range of commercial vehicle tyres, representing four new design features. The tyres feature entirely new inner liner technology, dubbed “AirKeep” for its ability to stay inflated for longer, in addition to modifications to the belt, bead and contour design. The tyre will be manufactured primarily at the company’s plant in Puchov, Slovakia. It comes onto the market at a tricky time, with EU and UK new truck tyre sales down 34 and 20 per cent respectively, according to figures quoted at the launch.
Conti is backing up its new range with a “Technology Truck” tour throughout Europe and the ContiCostCalculator, a new electronic tool based on research conducted by Continental and certified by DEKRA, which calculates the economic and ecological benefits of fitting the new range to customers’ fleets. These initiatives form part of the company’s response to the belief that, in these trying economic times, “you have to understand the pressures on customers and…be a business consultant,” as Conti’s general sales manager – truck replacement Barry Guildford said at the tyre launch in London. He also told Tyres & Accessories that the company was “heavily investing in training [its] salespeople”, in order to impress upon customers the long-term cost benefits of fitting the new Continentals. “It’s about educating the fleet,” he concluded.
Next generation design
The tyres in question are the culmination of a development overhaul of the previous generation of commercial tyres. Continental’s engineers have used a completely new casing technology as a basis, featuring a new 4-ply triangular belt, the AirKeep inner liner system, the steel cord reinforced bead and a new contour. This combination, says Continental, ensures higher mileage, reduced rolling resistance and improved retreadability. The tyres also feature deeper treads (for example, the HSR 2 is 1.5mm and the HDR 2mm deeper than their predecessors) and reduced tyre noise. Jill Rodgers, marketing manager – commercial products, emphasised the general technological progress of the new tyres by pointing out that “deepening treads usually involves an increase in rolling resistance, but we have achieved quite the opposite.”
The new stiffer casing has been given a newly optimised contour, allowing a considerably larger air volume to be held, which works to increase the load-bearing capacity and the mileage of the tyre. Furthermore undesirable movements of the tyre, which affect its life, are reduced. It has also been possible to further reduce the weight of the tyre through its construction. The steel cord bead reinforcer has been redesigned and, Conti says, improved considerably compared with its predecessor for a particularly stable seat on the wheel rim.
The tyres from the R series are intended for every-day use in regional transport and on long distance routes. Continental believes that they can play a significant role in reducing running costs, offering greater mileage and the lowest fuel costs in their class. Achieving this, Continental told T&A, was a result of the four major design alterations made for the 2 series; the tyre combines greater air retention, increased stability reducing distortion and decreased heat generation, which the company believes will reduce rolling resistance and fuel consumption. Finally, the mileage of the tyres has been raised by up to 20 per cent before they start their second life on the road as high-quality retread tyres. The R series tyres qualify for universal use on a wide range of surfaces and in tough conditions.
The L series is being launched specifically for long distance usage and features similar design features to its regional counterpart, though with differing tread patterns more suitable for international usage. During the development of the tread, the focus was clearly placed on maximum savings in fuel consumption and maximising tyre life, resulting in a possible mileage increase of up to 25 per cent, according to the manufacturer. Additionally, the reduced weight allows additional payload potential, while the rising force influences of the drive and retarder are taken into account with a special single-direction tread pattern with self-supporting blocks.
All tyres from the second generation feature Continental‘s patented AirKeep technology on the inside; a high-tech inner layer that Continental says will increase the economy and reliability of new Continental truck tyres. The inner layer is made from a special non-air-permeable rubber and maintains a constant air pressure for considerably longer than conventional tyres, thus effectively counteracting gradual loss of pressure. The new technology, Conti says, helps to increase reliability, reduce fuel consumption and extend the tyre life in practical use due to its ability to run further at optimised pressure, thus increasing the uniformity of wear and decreasing rolling resistance.
The reduction in air diffusion allows the tyres’ safety properties to work more effectively. When not inflated properly, even modern truck tyres cannot provide full safety-related properties like optimum side support and the best possible transfer of braking power to the road surface. Coated with a special rubber compound in a process patented by Continental, the enlarged molecules in this inner layer of rubber form a tightly packed structure that the manufacturer compares to a bird’s coat of feathers, which slows down the constant escape of air. Company research suggests that oxygen molecules need up to 50 per cent longer to get through the labyrinthine structure of the AirKeep inner layer. Asked whether the system was similar to the oft-mooted idea of inflating tyres with nitrogen, Arthur Gregg, sales and marketing director – commercial, said that the AirKeep technology was viewed by the company as a “more realistic” solution to the problem of diffusion.
In addition to the R&D-related technical advances in terms of the product, Continental is resolved to continuing the process of equipping its salespeople with the means to educate fleet managers as to the benefits of its products; investing “heavily” in training and in new initiatives, such as the ContiCostCalculator and its pan-European roadshow (see ‘Calculate Costs with Conti’ on Tyrepress.com). The ContiCostCalculator from Continental’s Truck Tyre Division allows users to compare directly the purchase and operating costs of commercial vehicle tyres amongst all the major tyre brands. The database is DEKRA-certified and helps calculate the running costs of a truck, showing ways to reduce them.
The calculator, claims Continental, is a world first, showing customers the best economical and ecological choices based on individual usage figures. The application takes the kilometre costs and the fuel consumption into account for the overall calculation, while also covering additional income from the increased payload that a lower tyre weight makes possible.
The number of trucks in the particular fleet, annual mileage and the use of retreaded tyres are requested for the basic cost calculation. At this stage, the user can immediately see the percentage and actual cost advantage compared with similar products. The tyre types for steer and drive axles on the tractor as well as the trailer can be selected separately and calculated together with purchasing conditions like return of casings, fitting price and so on. Continental is at pains to emphasise that, as on the road and in real terms, it is not only the purchase price and the mileage that play a part, an understandable concern given that the new tyres will retail at an estimated increase of 4 per cent in price. Continental believes it can counter the £10-20 higher cost of its premium tyres over quality ranges through showing the possible savings of using its products over their entire life.
The manufacturer argues that at many transport companies, the mileage of a truck tyre remains the most important assessment criterion for the economy of the tyre. However with ever rising fuel prices, a tyre’s economy is where significant savings can be made. The focus of cost balances for long distance transport has shifted to fuel consumption, says Conti, which accounts for around 30 per cent of the running costs incurred in long distance usage. The enormous savings potential resulting from the use of modern, low rolling resistance tyres can be worked out with the ContiCostCalculator.
“The intelligent programme calculates cost savings that can reach a six-figure sum with a fleet of 50 tractor-trailers, for example,” says Stephan Giesler, eBusiness manager for commercial vehicle tyres at Continental.
Supervisory association DEKRA has carefully analyzed the calculation processes and officially certified the cost calculator.
The series 2 regional and long distance tyres will be available initially in the following sizes:
Regional HSR 2 (steer) and HDR 2 (drive):
HTR 2 (trailer):
Long-Distance HSL 2 (steer) and HDL 2 (drive):
The HTL 1 series trailer tyre is still available in sizes: