CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Responding to the increasing radialization of the off-the-road tire market, Continental General Tire Inc. (CGT) has debuted the first models of what it says eventually will be a complete line of radial off-the-road tires under the Continental brand.
The production build-up will occur in two phases. The first phase, currently under way, will cover 65-70 percent of the sizes currently on the market, the company said, including applications such as articulated dump trucks, small and mid-size loaders, small scrapers, motor graders and small rigid haul trucks.
The second phase, due to begin in the second quarter of 2002, will expand the company's offerings to include larger sizes, such as those for large loaders and scrapers, mid-size rigid haul trucks and container-handling equipment.
The radials are being produced at CGT's plant in Bryan, Ohio, but no physical expansion of the facility is planned. As radial production at the plant increases, bias-ply production is being shifted to other facilities, including some overseas that are owned by CGT's parent, Continental A.G., said Bob Harnar, manager of off-the-road original equipment sales.
For example, production of large bias OTR tires already has been moved to Eastern Europe, Mr. Harnar said.
CGT's decision to develop radial OTR tires was a response to changing market conditions in North America, where OTR radials are expected to outsell bias-ply tires for the first time this year, Mr. Harnar said. The original-equipment segment already is 70-percent radial, he said.
Bias tires still claim a 65-percent share of the OTR replacement market, he said, but radials are gaining market share at a rate of about 3 percent per year.
CGT has long been a significant player in the bias OTR market, with about a 32-percent share, Mr. Harnar said, and has a good network of dealers and distributors. To the extent that those dealers have needed OTR radials, however, they have had to look to other suppliers—until now.
The first Continental-brand OTR radials now are available and include: the EA3, an E-3 earthmover radial for articulated dump trucks in sizes 13.5R25 and 20.5R25; the LDR3, an L-3 loader/dozer radial in size 23.5R25; and the TGL2, an L-2 loader/dozer radial in size 20.5R25.
These tires were released for commercial production in June, after six months of field testing at CGT's test facility in Uvalde, Texas, as well as on test fleets in Florida, Michigan and Texas, Mr. Harnar said.
Additional sizes are in development, as are additional models. Also scheduled to be part of the first phase of production are: the EDT4, a deep-tread E-4 earthmover radial; the LPL3, a low-profile L-3 loader radial; and the TG2, a G-2 radial for motor graders.
All Continental OTR radials feature: multiple steel tread belts to protect against penetration; square shoulder designs with hazard scuff bars for enhanced sidewall protection; and footprints designed using three-dimensional imagery to promote tread stability, traction and even wear.