Continental continues to expand its position with tires for fully electric vehicles. In 2021, for example, seven of the ten highest-volume manufacturers of electric vehicles worldwide relied on the high technological expertise of the premium tire manufacturer as original equipment. These included Tesla, whose models are all equipped with tires from Continental ex-works, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz. But Asian manufacturers, such as KIA and BYD, and American vehicle producers, such as Ford, also rely on tires from Continental as original equipment for their electric vehicles.

“We develop tires for different electric vehicles and their fields of application – regardless of whether they are small cars for city traffic or off-road SUVs. We are proud that so many manufacturers around the world are equipping their vehicles with our premium tires – this is proof of our development expertise and the premium quality of our tires,” says David O’Donnell, who heads the original equipment business of Continental’s Tires business sector. “As the only vehicle-to-road connection, the tire makes a very important contribution to underlining the required driving characteristics of the vehicle model,” he adds.

At its core, tire development is about optimization in a triangle of safety, efficiency and comfort. For electric vehicles, in addition to braking performance and handling, the mileage, interior noise and rolling resistance are key characteristics in this context. All of Continental’s current tire lines are designed for use on e-cars and to optimize their range. At the same time, they are also capable of sustainably reducing the energy consumption of combustion vehicles. By means of complementary technologies, such as ContiSeal or ContiSilent, Continental also meets all the specific requirements that manufacturers place on tires in the course of the electrification of their vehicle models.

Reducing rolling resistance has become an important goal of tire development in recent years. “With our specific rolling resistance-optimized tires, we are contributing to more climate-friendly and sustainable mobility. We combine our decades of experience in tire development with findings from various practical tests and development cooperations with well-known manufacturers,” says Dr. Holger Lange, who heads tire development for Continental’s original equipment business. “Recently, we introduced a special tire for vehicles of the Stellantis brands Peugeot, DS and Opel which exceeds the requirements of the EU tire label rating A for energy efficiency by around 17 per cent. This tire is particularly low in rolling resistance, but has also received the top EU tire label rating A in the wet grip – an outstanding achievement by our engineers and material experts.” To be able to achieve this result, Continental’s developers came up with an innovative sidewall construction and a special compound for the tread, successfully improving performance in both dimensions of this technical target conflict between rolling resistance and wet braking performance.

According to research by Continental, tires are responsible for up to 20 per cent of a vehicle’s total resistance. Energy efficiency is an important aspect for vehicle manufacturers, and thus for the tire original equipment business, in order to reduce the CO2 emissions of manufacturer fleets. Low rolling resistance is also, particularly in demand by owners of electric cars, for whom efficient driving is a priority. This is because reduced rolling resistance has a clearly measurable positive effect on the environment. It helps to reduce a vehicle’s energy consumption.

Continental has also developed special technologies that meet the specific requirements of tires for electric vehicles and which are available both ex-works and in the tire replacement business. These include ContiSilent technology, which reduces the sound components of rolling noise perceived as particularly annoying in the vehicle interior by up to nine decibels. To achieve this, a special foam layer is applied to the inside of the tire tread to absorb the vibrations that occur while driving. ContiSilent is compatible with all commercially available rims and does not affect a vehicle’s performance, fuel consumption, load capacity, or top speed. This technology is particularly useful in electrically powered vehicles as they travel without engine noise and are therefore much quieter than a combustion engine vehicle.

With ContiSeal technology, Continental provides a solution that ensures a safe continuation of driving in the event of a puncture and also eliminates the need to carry a spare tire. This saves additional weight, which in turn can have a positive effect on the vehicle’s range. A highly elastic protective layer on the inside of the tire encloses penetrating foreign bodies in fractions of a second and reliably seals the damaged area when the foreign body is removed from the tread again – for example by the tire’s rotational movement. In this way, even holes up to five millimetres in diameter are reliably sealed. Around 80 per cent of punctures can be remedied immediately in this way.

The design requirements for tires are also changing with the development of electromobility – for example, with regard to the increase in vehicle weight due to the battery units installed. Continental has been producing passenger tires with the new HL load index designation since 2021. These tires have a higher load-bearing capacity at the same inflation pressure than those with the XL standard which has been common up to now. The load capacity of the HL tire with load index 101 is 825 kg, which is a ten per cent increase over the XL standard with a load index of 98 and a load capacity of 750 kg.

Source: Continental