to make the world
to make the world
Continental makes some of the best tyres and a bunch of other things found in your car. Since its founding in 1871, Continental has contributed nearly a century and a half’s worth of innovations to the automotive industry.
t is safe to say that the automotive industry would not be where it is today without the commensurate progress experienced by the tyre industry. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine cars being the comfortable and refined machines that they are today had John Boyd Dunlop not managed to make the pneumatic tyre practical for production.
The basic concept of the tyre, which is a rubber strip surrounding a wheel filled with pressurized air inside was introduced the late 19th century. It was a massive leap from solid rubber tyres, being simultaneously more comfortable and consuming far less material to make.
Whilst the tyre’s basic principle has not changed, many refinements happened along the way that made them smoother, quieter, grippier, tougher, and longer-lasting than they used to be. As one of the world’s biggest tyre makers, Continental AG has been and continues to be at the forefront of advancing the latest innovations in tyre technology since its founding in 1871, some 146 years ago.
And it’s not just tyres, Continental’s contributions in the automotive industry cover a wide range of other components that make up a modern car. These days, it is unlikely that you can buy a new car out there without a few components made by Continental.
A TRADITION OF
From its humble beginnings as a manufacturer of rubber products, Continental has relentless driven itself by the spirit of innovation, challenging boundaries and constantly expanding its abilities to become the company it is today.
In 1892, just four years after Dunlop introduced the pneumatic tyre, Continental quickly became the first German company to make pneumatic tyres for bicycles.
Six years later, came pneumatic tyres for cars, though perhaps the more important development was made in 1904 when Continental presented the world’s first treaded automotive tyre – surely the most crucial innovation in the history of the tyre.
On its 50th anniversary in 1921, Continental pioneered the introduction of pneumatic tyres for commercial vehicles.
The spirit of innovation continues unabated into the 21st century, with Continental unveiling the ContiSportContact 2 Vmax, the world’s first road tyre approved for speeds up to 360 km/h.
On the other hand, way before ‘low-rolling resistance’ became buzzwords, Continental also had the world’s first environmentally-friendly passenger car tyre, the ContiEcoContact in 1991.
MOTORSPORTS -HONED HERITAGE
Few venues serve as better proving ground for automobiles than the race track, and racing played an important role in Continental’s early history.
In 1901, the Mercedes 35 HP, regarded as the first modern car, powered to a dominant victory in the 392km Nice-Salon-Nice race wearing Continental pneumatic tyres. Throughout the race, the Merc’s average speed of 51.4 km/h far exceeded the previous record of 31.3 km/h, and the car even reached a top speed of 86 km/h.
Continental’s successful partnership with Daimler went on for more than a decade, leading to a triple victory at the French Grand Prixin 1914 for Daimler cars fitted with Continental tyres.
More success came in the latter half of the 1930s, as Continental racing tyres fitted in Mercedes and Auto-Union cars were involved in four consecutive German Grand Prix wins, four successes in the North African Tripoli race, another three wins in Italy as well as helping to set numerous speed records.
After the Second World War, Continental returned to the race track in close collaboration with Daimler-Benz and Porsche, helping the likes of Karl Kling, Sir Stirling Moss, and Juan Manuel Fangio win the 1952 Panamericana as well as the French, British, Dutch, and Italian Grand Prix.
The fourth largest tyre maker in the world, Continental offers a wide selection of tyres to suit a wide range of budget and performance requirements, even for the Malaysian market.
Latest tyre to join the range is the new MaxContact MC6, replacing the MC5 offering superior handling without compromising comfort and noise levels. Available in sizes ranging from 16 to 20 inches, the MC6 was found to consistently reduce braking distance by at least 2 metres in the wet.
Best of all, development of the MC6 was spearheaded by a Malaysian tyre engineer; its characteristics made for the needs of the ASEAN market. Malaysia Boleh!
DEALING WITH A PUNCTURE
A punctured tyre is one of the most stressful events that can happen to a motorist. It cripples your car and if you’re unlucky, it can leave you stranded in isolated locations.
For many years, the solution to this problem has been to provide a spare tyre, but this takes up space and adds weight to the car, indirectly increasing your fuel consumption. There’s also the danger of stopping your car and changing your tyres on an open road, just inches away from free-flowing traffic.
Runflat tyres eliminate the need for you to risk your life for the sake of your macho-ness by allowing you to drive on for a limited distance in the event of a puncture. This allows you to limp toward safe location, best if it’s a tyre shop, before stopping for help.
ContiSeal technology, however, goes one step further by self-sealing a punctured tyre on the move. It is a sticky, viscous sealant layer applied to the inside of the tyre and is able to seal up to 80% of all tyre punctures, thereby reducing the risk of a flat tyre.
MORE THAN JUST TYRES
Although Continental is most famous for its tyres, you can actually find its orange rampant horse logo in various other places in your car. The Automotive Systems division was set up in 1995 to intensify the systems business with the automotive industry.
An early innovation by Continental was the integrated starter alternator damper that combines a vehicle’s starter and generator in a single unit. This innovation is a key component of hybrid vehicles that continues to be used today, and Continental developed it in 1997. More recently, Continental also began making lithium-ion batteries for hybrid cars and electric motors as well.
Many other in-car technologies are also offered by Continental. Here in Malaysia, Continental Automotive operates a manufacturing plant in Penang responsible for supplying instrument clusters to major automotive manufacturers that include Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and the Volkswagen Group.
EVEN MORE TO COME
As a major behind-the-scenes player in the automotive industry, Continental is at the forefront of shaping motoring trends in the years and decades to come.
Automated Driving – Set to be a key area of development, with advanced driver assistance systems already allowing the owner to hand over guidance to the vehicle in certain situations. Continental had in fact begun experimenting with automated driving in 1969 with a modified Mercedes-Benz W114 that is able to follow a path on the circular ContiDrom track without being operated by a human driver.
Electric Mobility – Just as certain that cars will be self-driven in the future, they will also be electric-powered and the way forward is being paved by gradual electrification of internal combustion engines. Continental currently offers start/stop systems, 48V and hybrid components, as well as systems for purely electric vehicles.
Safety – Accidents need to be a thing of the past, but given the steadily increasing volume of traffic globally, the issue of automotive safety becomes ever more challenging for society, industry, and legislators. Cars are not only becoming better built, with technologies like auto braking, they are also becoming more pro-active in protecting you from harm.
Digitalization – Cars are becoming increasingly computerized; the electronics ever more intricate and complicated. There are also increasingly more sensors in a car that enable it to better perceive its surroundings as well as to better judge the driver’s intentions. Cars have, in fact, become so intelligent that they can read the drivers simply by tracking their eye movements. For Continental, the challenge is not only to refine these systems, but also to make them available for vehicles of smaller classes.
Infotainment – We are living in an increasingly connected world and the car should, therefore, facilitate the continued connectivity of its occupants to the ongoing developments of the outside world, at the same time without distracting the driver’s attention. Integration of smartphone functions into the vehicle’s infotainment is therefore crucial, and needs to be done in a manner that creates the least distraction.