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Original equipment - driving on the preferred choice

Chances are that you are already driving around a car with Continental parts in it. Because car manufacturers in Europe trust our products so much, they use Continental tires for every third new car in more than 800 models. This makes us the preferred choice of car manufacturers and places us well ahead of all our competitors. No matter the make of your new car, whether you switch from a small car to a family van, or finally take delivery of your dream car, the manufacturers know: Continental tires stand for reliable safety.

Getting there was not an easy path: it takes an average of four years from concept study to one of our tires being mounted on a new car made by an international manufacturer. During this time, we develop a tire that is best-suited for the car model and the market where it is released and then subject it to around 100 internal tests. Car buyers ultimately want tires of the highest quality and, above all, highest safety that last as long as possible and let them enjoy their new car for a long time.

3 questions for: Ulrich Mertin on OE tire development

Take a look at a modern car and you see a perfectly integrated concept, tires included. The right set of tires ensures that a car’s performance on paper is actually transferred onto the road. Gaining OE supplier approval from automakers indicates the exceptional quality of a product. Given the ever-increasing demands on new car models and the unstoppable technological development, however, developers are facing ever greater challenges, which – to complicate matters – also vary between countries and manufacturers.  Ulrich Mertin, Senior Vice President Key Account Management EMEA Business Unit OE PLT Tires at Continental, explains the importance and challenges of OE tire development.

OE tire development is a highly demanding business. At what stage of developing a car do manufacturers typically get in touch with Continental?

Let me put it this way: when we receive an inquiry, we typically have between three and four years to develop the ideal tire for a new car model. But right now, for example, we have inquiries about projects that have to be finalized in two years’ time. These extended deadlines allow us to meet the requirements more than adequately. In the best case, though, we would of course become involved in the concept stage of a new car development. And while that may not be the norm, it does happen.

What are the key performance characteristics that an automaker expects a tire manufacturer to deliver?

It differs from one country to the next and indeed from one automaker to the next. Generally speaking, the core requirements primarily relate to safety, and to reducing rolling resistance, noise levels in the cabin and exterior noise – all without compromising on safety. The requirements also change over time, especially with new technologies.  Back in the 1980s, for example, rolling resistance and fuel consumption played a relatively subordinate role, but that has changed fundamentally with the rise (and demands) of electric mobility. All in all, pushing the limits in every direction is the mission at hand.

How do you ensure that a newly developed OE tire meets the high expectations of car manufacturers?

We run countless tests at the end of the development process, first in the labs and then out on the track. OE tires in particular are subjected to comprehensive testing. The goal is to exceed our performance targets, be it for noise generation, deceleration or rolling resistance. Tests under lab conditions are followed by test drives under real-life conditions on our test tracks. Each team has its own test drivers to handle this task and evaluate if a newly developed tire also works well on the road.

Continental OE through the ages: Historical Heroes

Car manufacturers understand that there is little reason to spend millions of dollars developing the ride and handling qualities of a new vehicle if they are going to omit integrating the influence of its Original Equipment tires. But OE tires also play a big part in determining a car's unique personality. Over the decades Continental tires were chosen time and again for car models that today are synonymous with a generation's lifestyle or simply have become iconic.

ABOUT the ARTIST

Julian Montague is a Buffalo, N.Y.-based graphic designer, illustrator, photographer, and installation artist. Montague tends to create evolving bodies of work in various media around a theme over a period of years. His major projects typically explore the peripheral features of the domestic and urban environment. The "Historical Heroes" series he created for Continental references Montague's own "Print Series: Cars of the 1970s". Published in 2014 his work appeals to lovers of a minimalist approach, as well as car lovers of all sorts.

See more of Julian’s artworks on his website

Julian Montague

Be part of the world's largest community - with Continental OE tires

Taking delivery of a new car? Original Equipment tires play an integral role in achieving a comfort and performance capabilities desired for a car, and greatly influences the driver's overall satisfaction with the vehicle. Most importantly, they guarantee safe journeys for you and your family.

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