UVALDE, Texas (March 3, 2003) — Continental Tire North America Inc. wants to compete with the Big 3 tire makers in medium truck tires in North America and now maintains it has the tire line to do it.
The Charlotte, N.C.-based firm announced Feb. 28 the introduction of seven Continental-brand medium truck tires that have been designed, built and tested for the North American market.
“In years past, we relied on Europe to supply Continental product,” said Clif Armstrong, Conti's director of original equipment and commercial brands management, referring to Continental's parent company in Germany, Continental A.G. Now with these new products, the company will attempt to stake its claim in North America to compete head on with the market leaders—the Goodyear, Michelin and Bridgestone brands.
The Conti brand maintains a 2.5 percent share of the domestic replacement truck tire market, Mr. Armstrong said, and aims to boost that position to 4 percent within five years.
Conti is introducing the new tires to tire dealers, fleets, original equipment truck manufacturers and the tire and trucking trade press, during the weeks of Feb. 24 and March 3 at a series of events at its Uvalde, Texas, proving grounds.
The new Continental-brand tires include the:
* HSL (heavy steer long haul) Eco Plus premium long-haul steer tire, with an 18/32-inch, six-rib tread design and reduced rolling resistance;
* HDL (heavy drive long haul) Eco Plus premium long-haul drive tire, with a 28/32-inch tread depth and low rolling resistance;
* HTL (heavy trailer long haul) all-position trailer tire with a 13/32-inch deep tread designed to minimize squirm and irregular wear;
* HSC (heavy steer construction) all-position, on/off highway service tire with a 23/32-inch tread depth and a cut-resistant tread compound;
* HSU (heavy steer urban) off-highway, heavy-service tire featuring an extra-deep 24/32-inch tread depth;
* HDC (heavy drive construction) on/off highway drive tire with a 30/32-inch aggressive tread for all-weather traction; and
* HDO (heavy duty off road) off-highway drive tire with a 32/32-inch tread depth and aggressive, self-cleaning tread pattern.
While Conti will serve as the premium medium truck tire line, the company's General-brand truck tires will remain the value label and compete with what Mr. Armstrong called “second-tier” medium truck tire lines such as Yokohama, Firestone and BFGoodrich.
Not wanting to lose ground with General, which enjoys a 5.5 percent share of the North American medium truck tire replacement market, Conti also will introduce three General medium truck tires in 2003, Mr. Armstrong said.
Continental is making the new Conti tires at its Mount Vernon, Ill., truck tire plant and already has the majority of sizes and tread patterns in stock, with the complete line available by early May, Mr. Armstrong said.