Business feature: Continental Tyres

By: Chris McCullough


CT7 Tyres with VF technology are robust and durable all-rounders CT7
CT8 copy The new d.fine lug design has a five percent larger surface area than a standard radial tyre CT8 copy
CT9 copy N.flex uses nylon because it's light and has a good chemical connection to the rubber of the tyre CT9 copy

It’s only six years since Continental restarted making agricultural tyres and the brand has already captured significant market share in Australia and NZ

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Back in 2004, the German-founded company decided to focus on producing car tyres, selling its agricultural tyre business to CGS Holding, the parent group of Mitas in the Czech Republic.

From 2004 until 2016, CGS/Mitas produced agricultural tyres under the brand Continental in its own production sites, selling them through its sales channels.
Following the Trelleborg takeover of CGS/Mitas in 2016, and with intervention from the cartels authority, Continental regained the licence agreement to produce agricultural tyres once again.

Fast forward to today and Continental produces 116 different agricultural tyres in its factory at Lousado in Portugal, ranging from 20 to 50 inches.

Backed up by extensive R&D, Continental tyres are produced with tried-and tested-technology that’s impressing users with reliability and longevity.

A Continental approach

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Benjamin Hubner, Continental product line manager for agriculture tyres, says, "Since September 2017, all of our agricultural radial tyres are manufactured in the extended production hall in Lousado.

"Our aim is to always deliver premium quality tyres. Therefore, in 2017, we invested 49.9 million euros in the production facility and additional 2.5 million euros in the R&D and Evaluation Centre as well, which is right next to the production hall. This centre does research in close cooperation with the Central R&D department in Hanover, Germany, and the Evaluation Centre is certified by ISO 17025.

"We continuously analyse trends and developments in the European market.
In this way, we are able to provide
premium-quality agricultural tyres tailored to the needs of our customers and add real value. We’re very proud to have this high-quality production site with state-of-the-art production technology and a highly motivated and ambitious team located in Portugal."

Tyre technology

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Continental is confident its tyres with VF (Very High Flexion) technology, and a host of other tyre tech, will enable it to secure greater market share going forward.

Besides supplying the aftermarket with tyres, Continental now also supplies several large OEMs such as Fendt, Valtra, CNHi, MF, Krone, and John Deere.

These days, tractor tyres are used both in field and road situations, switching between the two on a regular basis; therefore, the pressure required in the tyres needs to be adaptable.

In the field, low inflation pressure needs to be used to improve traction and reduce soil compaction, but on the road, higher pressure is required to boost driving comfort, and reduced rolling resistance and load carrying.

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Using a Continental VF tyre helps eliminate the need to change tyre pressures between road and field, as the tyre can be driven with 40% more load at the same tyre pressure as a standard tyre or 40% less tyre pressure at the same load. In addition, tyres with VF technology operate more fuel-efficiently than conventional tractor tyres.

"Customers are understanding the benefits and rewards that a VF tyre gives. These paired with our CPC technology will ensure that operators have live tyre information during applications, giving opportunities to adjust tyres throughout the day," says Tom Godwin, Continental agriculture tyres sales manager for UK and Ireland.

"Fitment of VF tyres upon OE machines is also growing and sales representatives within tractor dealerships are also promoting the benefits and also asking us more about the range. The more we can do to educate the benefits of VF and its abilities, the greater the demand.

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"However, VF isn’t for everyone’s farming applications though. Our TractorMaster range, which includes 65 series and XL tyres that match our sizes within VF, can still offer high benefits to our customers."

Continental agricultural tyres use other beneficial technology, including optimised bead geometry that improves the deflection of the tyre and reduces the compression of the sidewall rubber. This also hugely decreases the risk of tyre slippage upon the rim when operating at low pressures and high torque.

A widened belt and shoulder area ensures improved load distribution and thus greater durability. This gives an even footprint on the ground reducing soil compaction. Continental developed its own lug technology that has a five percent larger surface area, allowing tyres to grip better with less slippage. Under its d.fine technology, a deep overlap of the lugs ensures more comfort in the cab for the operator and less vibrations on the road.

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With d.fine, the lugs are offset at a 45-degree angle to improve the self-cleaning properties of the tyre, which maximises grip. The lug is designed with a parabolic curve to help the lug bend and flex, which also helps the tyre to eject the soil without cracking and helps the tyre to return to its original shape.

N.flex is a patented nylon that improves the flexibility of the tyre, which, in turn, reduces flat spots and makes the tyre more resistant to stress.

"We have developed N.flex to give our tyres greater stability," adds Tom. "Our N.flex nylon has a stronger connection to the rubber providing greater flexibility, durability, and resistance to heat deformation.

"Resistance to heat deformation also helps to reduce flat spots, which occur when the tyre cools in a parked position following long periods of work. We have tested our tyres extensively to increase the tolerance of the tyre to the pressures of heavy agricultural work."

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The ANZ market

In terms of the ANZ market, Continental supplies the total product range from 280/70R20 to 900/60R32 CombineMaster.

In New Zealand, Continental has partnered with Tyremax NZ, which manages seven distribution warehouses across the North and South Islands of the country.

A few of the key sizes in New Zealand include 650/60R34 TractorMaster VF, 710/70R42 TractorMaster VF, 480/65R28 TractorMaster, 540/65R38 TractorMaster, and 600/60R30 VF.

Continental says sales of the TractorMaster Series, including a number of VF sizes, have been very good with positive feedback from customers on comfort and long tread life.

CT1.jpgAlso, Kubota imports a variety of tractors into the ANZ market without a tyre and wheel package, which has enabled collaboration between Continental and its current OE partner, Ag Tyres & Wheels, located in East Bendigo, Victoria, to tailor a package in line with the customers’ requirements. Through this relationship, Continental has also carried out R&D on the M5 range with Kubota Australia.

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