KAANAPALI BEACH, Maui (Jan. 11, 2002)—In an attempt to reassure dealers that the company is serious about repositioning the Continental brand and revitalizing its sagging General brand, Continental Tire North America promised to introduce five new broad market tires and six private brands over the next five months.
Dealers attending the company's “Sellebration in Paradise” conference in Maui got a sneak preview of the tire maker's new Contisport Contact 2 ultra-high-performance tire and Conti Extreme Contact, CTNA's first ultra-high-performance all-season tire—both due in dealer showrooms April 1. On March 1, the company will introduce the General Ameritrac TR, a sport utility light truck tire, followed on May 1 by the debut of two more General tires: the General Exclaim, an H-rated high performance tire, and the General AmeriGS60 touring tire.
The company did not provide details for the new private brands it planned to introduce.
“I know we haven't done what we should have in the new products area in the past,” acknowledged Mike Barker, CTNA's vice president of sales and marketing, passenger and light truck replacement group. Jeff Jankowski, director of dealer sales, added the tire maker is planning to relaunch its General Ameritrac and Continental brand Contitrac products because “we didn't do a good job marketing these tires in the past.”
At the meeting, CTNA executives also said the company would begin a February rollout of its new ContiLink business-t o-business Web site, which will allow dealers to order tires online, as well as check inventory and track purchases.
The tire maker tested the new system last year in about a half-dozen dealerships. Conti will continue to refine ContiLink over the next several months, with the goal of having it operational in 60 locations by April and in 300 sites by the end of 2002.
“Our largest competitors have had (similar sites),” Mr. Barker said. “We're a little late, but can catch up quickly.”
Mr. Jankowski said the company's goal in 2002 was to attain 6.5-percent market share in its dealer channel—an improvement over CTNA's 6.2-percent mark last year.