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Research & Development

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Our Tires Are High-Tech Products.

German engineering skill and precision are not only legendary but also deeply rooted in our DNA. Today we draw upon engineering expertise from all over the world. Our culture is based on trust and the understanding that successes have to be earned through hard work. We strive to deliver maximum performance – this has been a constant for over 150 years.

At our development center in Hanover alone, 1,000 researchers, designers, and engineers work on innovations, developments, and tests with a clear goal in mind: making mobility safer, more efficient, and smarter.

The results are solutions for virtually all forms of mobility. From high-performance tires for cars, tires for trucks or buses, and digital solutions for fleet management, through to special solutions for special vehicles of all types as well as for bicycles or motorcycles – we have a suitable solution for virtually every application, every purpose and every market the world over.

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Tire Testing

Following extensive material testing in the laboratory and countless simulations, out on the test track is where the moment of truth arrives. Before they enter volume production, new tire models cover a total of 25 million kilometers every year on roller drum test rigs and test tracks – that’s 625 times around the Earth! But this enormous amount of time and effort is more than justified because it is the foundation on which the premium quality of Continental tires is based – quality valued by carmakers and customers all over the world for 150 years.

Every test series for a new product is conducted with different tread patterns to establish the strengths and weaknesses of the individual samples. In order to satisfy the wide-ranging test criteria, the test infrastructure has to facilitate a variety of precise methods. Professional test drivers are key to ensuring test quality. Only their subjective, human perception enables the objective test results to be supplemented and interpreted.

In order to test our winter, summer and all-season tires under a variety of seasonal conditions, we have our own test tracks in Arvidsjaur (Sweden), Jeversen (Germany), Uvalde (USA) and Hefei (China). Scandinavia or Sweden provides us with the best possible conditions to satisfy the test criteria for winter tires. In addition to testing at the in-house Contidrom, we test summer tires in the U.S.A. and New Zealand.

Our test tracks are standardized, which means that their surfaces are identical. And to make sure they stay that way, the tracks are regularly checked. Testing takes place on various types of terrain as well as under all weather conditions. As a result, Continental carries out more than 67,000 tire tests a year worldwide. According to our calculations, the tires we test circumnavigate the world around 625 times.

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The Contidrom in Wietze, near Hanover, is among the most advanced test tracks in the world.

The Contidrom is the prototype and reference for all tire test tracks at Continental. When it opened in 1967, only the 2.8-kilometer high-speed oval – which remains impressive to this day – was available. Over time, the test facility has been continually expanded and tracks such as the 1.8-kilometer wet-handling course and the 3.8-kilometer dry-handling track were added.

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Statutory tire tests take place on a regular basis and specify precisely which criteria need to be tested in relation to the tires – e.g. the braking characteristics in wet conditions, noise generation, and rolling resistance, as well as tire durability. Here there are no second chances: in a statutory tire test, the first test has to be convincing.

The inspection and test criteria for summer tires include:

  • handling characteristics on dry roads
  • handling characteristics on wet roads
  • noise generation
  • fuel consumption
  • wear

For winter tires, the following inspection and test criteria are added:

  • snow-covered roads
  • icy roads

The inspection and test criteria for summer and winter tire tests apply to all-season-tire tests.

The Future of Tire Testing: Simulation 

Simulation is growing in importance for tire testing and is constantly being refined. More and more tests are now automated and carried out virtually. This allows us to develop tires more efficiently and sustainably and with greater precision in accordance with the specific customer requirements.

Automated Indoor Braking Analyzer (AIBA)

In 2012, we presented the Automated Indoor Braking Analyzer (AIBA). This one-of-a-kind facility allows the brake performance of tires fitted to fully automated driverless vehicles to be tested on different road surfaces – all year round and regardless of the weather. The AIBA enables tire testing with constant friction coefficients and freely selectable road surfaces under fully air-conditioned test conditions throughout the year.

AVA (Analytic Vehicle AIBA)

Continental employs one of the most advanced and precise tire brake test procedures in the world. To this end, the tire manufacturer has developed a driverless, fully automated, and fully electric test vehicle that measures the braking performance of car tires. The tests are intended to help reduce the braking distance of tires further and thereby ensure greater safety in road traffic.

The Analytic Vehicle AIBA, or AVA, enables friction properties of tires to be precisely monitored when the brakes are applied on dry and wet roads. With the AVA, Continental is combining the advantages of a testing method that can be used on all vehicle models with the controlled and reproducible test environment of the Automated Indoor Braking Analyzer for the first time. This allows our tire experts to perform tests irrespective of vehicle- or model-specific characteristics. The cutting-edge test vehicle, which is the only one of its kind in the world, is used at the company’s own test track, the Contidrom.

Dynamic driving simulator provides subjective driving impressions

At our largest European tire testing center, the Contidrom, we are working with an innovative dynamic driving simulator. This is what is known as a driver-in-the-loop simulator, which calculates the exact driving dynamics parameters for the tire and the test vehicle. Thanks to its high mobility, the simulator can provide Continental’s professional test drivers with exactly the same subjective driving impressions as tire tests on the test track. This way, test drivers can try out newly developed tires in a wide variety of virtual test scenarios and driving situations. As a result, around 100,000 kilometers fewer need to be driven on real roads or real test tracks each year. What’s more, roughly 10,000 test tires can be saved per year.

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