CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 12, 2001)—During the third quarter of 2001, Continental Tire North America Inc. (CTNA) will begin offering to the North American market winter tire lines that have been available only in Europe.
The Charlotte-based tire maker is launching the ContiWinterContact TS 790, the ContiWinterContact TS 760, and three Continental Semperit tires—the Ice Grip, Direction-Grip and Top-Grip. These new winter tires will be CTNA´s answer to the Bridgestone Blizzak and Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice, a Conti spokesman said.
CTNA believes this year is the best time to introduce Continental-brand snow tires—which will be imported from Europe—to North America. The Semperit snow tires in particular will pave the way for future Semperit brands in other lines in 2002, but the spokesman couldn´t elaborate on what those lines will be.
The company´s goal is to capture a 6-percent market share in winter tires (the same percentage it holds in general replacement tires) and eventually to increase market share across all product lines, the spokesman said.
"Continental winter tires have been very successful in the European markets," said Jim Mayfield, national director of mass retail sales and product marketing.
"That, coupled with the fact American consumers are beginning to recognize that winter tires greatly improve handling and safety in extreme conditions makes this an ideal time for Continental to expand its winter tire business in North America."
The TS 790 is designed with densely packed sipes in the rows of tread lugs in the center to promote optimum grip in snow and ice, CTNA said. To improve handling in extreme conditions, Continental engineers have applied the latest in multi-cell technology to winter tire design, the company said.
Four circumferential grooves protect against aquaplaning in cold, wet winter conditions.
No General-brand winter tires will be offered in the immediate future, the CTNA spokesman said, noting that the company tried selling General snow tires a few years ago and received "mixed results" before pulling them from the market.
CTNA´s plan for an advertising campaign is still in the works, according to the spokesman.
Thus far, CTNA will roll out the TS 760 in 13 sizes but may add to that by the third quarter, he said. No proposed sizes were available for the TS 790. The spokesman said any additional sizes in winter tires will depend on the success of the upcoming lineup.