How Continental Is Transferring Technologies from Concept Tyres to Series Production
At leading international trade fairs such as IAA Mobility, Continental presents innovative technologies that set new standards. One topic of focus is sustainability. As early as 2021, the tyre manufacturer focused on the use of silica from agricultural waste, polyester from recycled PET and other renewable and recyclable materials with the Conti GreenConcept concept tyre. Continental has now incorporated many of these technologies into its series tyres. Last year, with the UltraContact NXT, the company launched the most sustainable series tyre to date. This underlines Continental’s claim to be the most progressive manufacturer in the tyre industry when it comes to sustainability.
“Sustainable innovations belong on the road and not in a showroom. We ensure that innovations and concept tyres are made available to our customers and go into production as quickly as possible, without any compromises in terms of safety and performance. We were the first to integrate pioneering technologies such as recycled PET into series tyres. And we were also the first tyre manufacturer to launch a model with a particularly high share of renewable and recycled materials. We walk our talk when it comes to making our world more sustainable,” says Jorge Almeida, Head of Sustainability at Continental Tires.
Polyester from PET bottles: From the presentation to series production in just one year
PET bottles often end up in waste incineration plants or landfills. By using the ContiRe.Tex technology, Continental and its partners have succeeded in producing high-quality polyester yarn for tyres from recycled PET bottles. Depending on the tyre size, between nine and fifteen PET bottles can be reused per tyre. The PET bottles used come exclusively from regions without a closed recycling loop.
The premium tyre manufacturer brought the Conti-Re.Tex technology to production readiness in less than a year. This is remarkable, because in addition to the conversion of corresponding production processes in the tyre plants, the use of new raw materials is always a complex balancing act for the engineers and material experts at Continental. After all, only when all the materials are perfectly coordinated with each other can customers benefit from safe, energy-efficient and durable high-performance tyres. Series tyres with Conti-Re.Tex technology have been available from specialist tyre dealers in the UK and Ireland since 2022
Series tyres with up to 65 percent sustainable materials
The Conti-Re.Tex technology is also part of the most sustainable passenger car series tyre on the market to date. With the UltraContact NXT, Continental offers a tyre with a particularly high proportion of sustainable materials. Many of the technologies contained in the tyre were part of the Conti GreenConcept concept tyre, which was presented to the public for the first time at IAA Mobility 2021. This included silica made from rice husk ash or recycled PET bottles. Production of the UltraContact NXT started in July 2023 in Lousado, Portugal. With up to 65 percent renewable, recycled and mass-balance-certified materials, the series tyre combines a high proportion of sustainable materials with maximum safety and performance. All 19 sizes received the top EU tyre label rating (“A”) in rolling resistance, braking in wet conditions and exterior noise. By 2030, Continental is aiming to use over 40 percent renewable and recycled materials in its tyres. The UltraContact NXT is an important step for the tyre manufacturer on the way to achieving its ambitious sustainability goals.
Innovations along the entire value chain
Thanks to the balanced interplay of efficient and sustainable technologies and materials, Continental products are particularly efficient when driving. The Conti CityPlus technology presented at this year’s IAA Mobility, for example, increases the overall energy efficiency of a car tyre by up to 10 percent. This means lower CO2 emissions for cars with combustion engines and greater range for electric vehicles. This is achieved by optimising tyre behaviour in inner-city stop-start traffic, which can increase the range of passenger cars by up to three percent. For electric vehicles, this corresponds to a saving of around 0.6 kWh per 100 kilometres. Continental’s latest technology could also be used in production in the near future. The premium manufacturer is in contact with several original equipment customers who have expressed interest.
Systematically moving toward greater sustainability
Continental is continuously working to advance innovative technologies and sustainable products and services along the entire value chain, from the procurement of sustainable materials to the recycling of end-of-life tyres. By 2030, the premium tyre manufacturer is aiming to use more than 40 percent renewable and recycled materials in its tyres. Continental aims to achieve a proportion of 100 percent sustainable materials in its tyres by 2050 at the latest.
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