PLAYA MUJERES, Mexico — One of the attributes that executives from Continental Tire the Americas say set the tire maker apart from its competitors is its willingness to listen, engage and react to dealer suggestions.
"We want the voice of the customer to be embedded in our decision-making," Bill Caldwell, Conti's senior vice president of sales and marketing, told Tire Business. "That's important."
And the execs say their customers are clear about the direction they want the company to take regarding adding more lines to their portfolio: Enough is enough.
That's one of the reasons the U.S. subsidiary of Hanover, Germany-based Continental A.G. won't add an electric-vehicle-only line of tires. The Continental tires the company produces in plants across the globe, they say, already are EV ready.
Joe Maher, the recently retired product manager, passenger and winter tires for the Fort Mill, S.C.-based firm, spent a significant amount of time during the general session explaining that stance during the Continental Gold Trip, held March 20-24 at the Atelier Playa Mujeres all-inclusive resort, located near Cancun. Approximately 300 dealers qualified for the event, including 36 first-timers.
Roughly 600 dealers, vendors, Conti personnel and guests attended the event, held during its usual spring time slot for the first time since the pandemic altered the schedule.
Conti execs told Tire Business that the tire maker's stance on EVs is based on dealer feedback.
"Could we (make EV-specific tires)? Sure we could," Travis Roffler, director of marketing, said. "Our dealers aren't asking for it. Our (dealer) product council said, 'Forget about it. We don't need another portfolio of tires.'"
"We could have an EV X, Y, Z tire, but it wouldn't be anything different than what we are offering in our portfolio," Caldwell said.
And that's the other main reason Conti execs say an EV-specific tire isn't necessary. The tires in their portfolio offer all of the same performance tradeoffs that consumers seek in a tire, no matter if the drivetrain is an internal combustion engine (ICE) or electric.
"Fuel economy, mileage versus wet/dry. Those are standard tradeoffs, and that's why we have different products — we want to offer customers a choice based on what's important to them," Caldwell said.
If an EV driver prefers more range and less performance, or vice versa, Conti has existing products optimized for those traits, he said.
"So we don't feel the need for a new product because the range of performance is already available in our portfolio," he said. "The message we're trying to get out is, to that customer, that we have a range of products to support varied customer needs in that area."
Maher, who retired April 1 after 21 years with the company, drove that point home to dealers during his presentation at the general session.
"We are EV ready," Maher said. "All of our tires are designed to be put on an electric vehicles."