Watch out for Continental Tyre South Africa! This company is now serious about the truck market writes Patrick O’Leary.
Management might nail me on that opening statement arguing they have been serious about the trucking sector in the past – but really! FleetWatch has always stated that you cannot even begin to hope to make inroads into the trucking market in South Africa , or anywhere else for that matter – unless you are solidly committed to and focused on this sector. You cannot, for example, mix car and truck products in the same basket and hope to make an impact with our local truckers. It never has, and never will work. Banks have learnt this (with some still trying to learn this), and even truck suppliers and manufacturers took time to learn this. Just speak to Isuzu Trucks, or UD Trucks or Hino Trucks and ask them to compare their focused approach of today with their rather mixed up approach of yesteryear when the trucks were bundled into one pot with cars, bakkies et al.
The good news therefore , more so even than the exciting products now being launched , that greeted FleetWatch when it attended Continental’s launch of its new tyre products was that the company has formed a dedicated, focused, specialised division to concentrate on the trucking industry with Brian Clarke as general manager of the new CVT Division.
The speeches did not really highlight this development but the vibe around the event told of a new spirit in the company. I mean who but someone who has passion for trucking can describe a new truck tyre as ‘˜sexy’. Up to now, the closest a tyre has come to anything related to sex is that it is made out of rubber, the same material as condoms, albeit a tad heavier. That’s about as close as it gets.
But Clarke, in announcing Continental’s most extensive product offensive into the trucking industry so far, waxed lyrical about the HSL 2, the new Heavy Truck Steer tyre for long distance operations describing is as ‘˜sexy’ and full of ‘˜bling’. Yeah! Go for it Brian. And welcome to the trucking world Continental.
The speeches around the event were also different and showed without doubt that these guys are now looking with new eyes at the trucking industry. This wasn’t like a car launch where mere product features are spelt out followed by the hand out of press releases glowing with adjectives like fantastic, fabulous, unique and revolutionary.
Bernd Korte, vice president, product development and industrialisation who was out from Germany for the launch, spoke of defining customer categories and then meeting the varying needs of these categories in the goods, passenger and construction sectors by developing tyres to meet those needs.
Words like rolling resistance, retreadability, durability, optimising costs, lowest overall driving costs, performance, reliability , and many other words describing operational requirements and needs of truckers , came strongly into the picture and characteristics of the tyres to meet these needs were spelt out.
There were also some broader interesting concepts presented such as trends to the year 2030 – but let’s leave those for a later article. What I wanted to get across here in that truckers can now look to Continental Tyre South Africa as a serious contender in this market. They are now talking the language of truckers and by all accounts, have hit the nail on the head when it comes to their new product offerings.
Basically, six new tyre patterns, available in five different sizes, will be available over the next six months, all produced locally at the plant in Port Elizabeth. Here’s what the official statement says about them:
The new generation truck tyres that have been developed using the latest technology for Regional and Long-distance usage are made from lab-engineered rubber compounds, suitable for South African conditions, for tough everyday use with the single aim of significantly reducing costs in the transport trade, whatever the application.These New Generation truck tyres boast significant design updates:
Together these improvements offer higher mileage, lower fuel consumption, reduced rolling resistance, improved retreadability and a considerable increase in safety.
And here’s something brand new. All tyres feature Continental’s patented Airkeep® technology, an inner liner made from a special non-air-permeable rubber which maintains the tyre inflation pressure at a constant level for up to 50% longer than before. Gradual loss of pressure is thus effectively counteracted. The new technology increases reliability, reduces fuel consumption and extends the tyre life noticeably in practical use.
By the end of the roll-out of the range, Continental will have renewed its complete premium range in the goods, people (buses) and construction vehicle segments. The company claims it now has the most modern product range, offering all the benefits and advantages expected from modern transport operations.
Equally important is that the company now has a dedicated focus on the trucking industry. That alone, is a giant leap forward.