Continental Attends IAA to Present Three Sustainable Tyre Solutions Catering for both Short and Long-Haul Transport

Continental at the IAA

Sustainability, sustainability, sustainability. Everywhere you turned at the IAA for Transportation, the tyre manufacturers were ready and promoting their sustainability credentials in the truck and bus sector. The trade fair, which was located not too far from Continental‘s Hanover base, gave the manufacturer the opportunity to showcase its range of highly innovative tyre solutions aimed at improving the sustainability of passenger and goods transport over short and long distances.

Klaus Kreipe, Continental’s Vice President for Original Equipment Truck Tyres at Continental Speaks to Commercial Tyre Business

Klaus Kreipe confirmed the sustainability trend that was front and centre for Continental at the IAA for Transportation right from the start of our interview, “Sustainability is the main area. The biggest and most obvious trend covering the OE (original equipment area) is that of sustainability.”

With the Conti Urban, for example, the tyre manufacturer managed to premiere a concept tyre specially designed for the electrified bus and delivery traffic of the future. The share of renewable and recycled materials in this prototype, which is already approved for road use and could soon enter a testing phase with customers, contains almost 50% renewable and recycled materials, with all the materials used being potentially able to be deployed in series production in the near future. Further to this, after just one retread, this figure increases to more than 90 percent.

The tread of the Conti Urban – the part of the tyre that is in contact with the road – contains 68 percent renewable materials, including rapeseed oil, silica obtained from the ash of rice husks and responsibly sourced natural rubber originating from a joint development project by Continental and the German development aid agency ‘Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit’ (GIZ). Cutting-edge digital technology, local involvement in the cultivation of rubber and close collaboration with strong partners creates transparency and ensures a high level of traceability along the entire value chain for natural rubber. All natural rubber used in the tread originates from this project.

In addition to recovered carbon black and recycled steel, Continental has also used reclaimed material to build the tyre. This recycled rubber originates primarily from Continental’s innovative retreading and recycling plant for truck tyres in Hanover, Germany.

On the subject of the concept tyre, Kreipe explained its role in achieving the manufacturer’s sustainability goals, “In that tyre we have roughly 50% of renewable and recycled material. The challenge is to get to long term targets, not to just 2030. We have committed to have all our natural rubber sourced in a sustainable way, and we need to start bringing that into products which gain experience in the real market and not only build prototypes. By 2050 we want 100% recycled and renewable material tyres, which is our long-term goal.”

Continental-Tyres-at-IAA

So why did Continental choose to focus on creating this concept tyre for urban delivery first? Kreipe explained, “We chose to create the tyre for an 18-tonne urban delivery application. This is because we believe that sustainability improvements in cities will play a bigger role at an earlier stage than outside of the cities. That is why we have chosen this Conti Urban application and reduced the noise emission.”

As Kreipe outlined, the concept tyre has also been specially noise-level-optimised, and the manufacturer is convinced that greater sustainability is essential in the urban passenger and goods traffic sector. This is due in particular to the ongoing increase in demand for urban passenger and goods transport. The number of electrified city buses being registered is also rising.

Furthermore, and like the majority of Continental’s commercial vehicle tyres, the Conti Urban can also be retreaded. The continued use of the casing, which contains an especially high share of all the materials used in a tyre, pays off: “Our Conti Urban increases its sustainability even more when its service life is extended. Once the tyre is retreaded, the share of renewable and recycled materials rises to more than 90 percent,” reiterated Kreipe.

When designing the tyre, Continental’s tyre developers focused their efforts on achieving high energy efficiency and optimising noise emissions. A special rubber compound in the tread, the wider tyre tread, and the specially optimised and exceptionally rigid profile, help to reduce rolling resistance by seven percent compared with a current-generation Conti Urban as well as increasing tyre life.

Continental Promotes Trailer Dynamics Prototype in Hanover

Additionally, Continental showcased a new tyre prototype specially designed for a new trailer concept with Trailer Dynamics, featuring a fully electric drive axle. Continental is the exclusive development partner for this innovative trailer from Trailer Dynamics, which is designed to hybridise truck tractor units by means of a battery-powered trailer and so reduces their CO2 emissions.

Kreipe explained, “It is the first time someone is electrifying the trailer. Every standard trailer in Europe has their 3 axles and the middle one in this scenario is electrified. The trailer is carrying batteries and with that battery it is connecting to the tractor and essentially creates a hybrid truck.”

The tread profile on this prototype is exceptionally robust and features deep traction elements such as sipes for high performance throughout the tyre’s lifetime. In addition, a special tread compound ensures a good balance between traction and mileage. The final series production tyre will also have a reinforced belt package to counter the impact of propulsion of the driven axle.

Continental Trailer Dynamics

“Our tyre prototype for electric trailers represents a whole new tyre segment. It possesses the properties of a tyre for the drive axle and is designed for the recuperation of braking energy. It also possesses all the properties of a conventional trailer tyre for the first and third axle. A real all-rounder in the truest sense of the word, it is specially designed for the hybridisation of trucks,” says Kreipe.

The prototype, which is based on the Conti EcoPlus HT3 + in size 355/50 R 22.5, is already approved for road use and is currently being tested in collaboration with Trailer Dynamics with series production scheduled to begin in 2025. As Kreipe explained, the electrified drive axle of the eMega Liner from Trailer Dynamics instantly transforms the semitrailer tractor with combustion engine into a hybrid vehicle, meaning that the electrified trailer significantly reduces diesel consumption and CO2 emissions – by at least 20 percent according to the manufacturer.

Conti EfficientPro Gen 3+: optimised rolling resistance for the original equipment sector

The third key topic that were addressing at the IAA for Transportation was that of rolling resistance but still in the context of sustainability. Kreipe explains, “Despite moving away from a pure focus on rolling resistance within the sustainability topic, we still do focus on rolling resistance at the IAA for Transportation. Here we are bringing that topic into focus with the Conti EfficientPro Gen 3+.”

The Conti EfficientPro Gen 3+ is Continental’s new and improved version of its long-distance tyre, which is well known in the original equipment business for trucks. The focus of further development was on minimising rolling resistance and, in turn, the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions generated during freight transport. Compared with its predecessor model, the declared rolling resistance of the Conti EfficientPro Gen 3+ for the steering and drive axle in size 315/70 R 22.5 is around nine percent lower. In size 385/55 R 22.5, which is designed for the steering axle, the tyre has around seven percent less rolling resistance compared to the declared value of its predecessor. These improvements were achieved thanks to new rubber compounds for tyre components, such as the treads and by modifying the belt to reduce deformation in the area of the tread contact and, in turn, rolling resistance.

“We have upgraded the Conti EfficientPro Gen3+ in specific ways so that our customers can further reduce the fuel consumption and, in turn, CO2 emissions of their fleets,” says Kreipe.

Internal VECTO calculations – a standardised method for calculating vehicle energy consumption – revealed that in a medium-sized fleet comprising of 500 vehicle units, each covering an average of 120,000 kilometres per year, the Conti EfficientPro Gen3+ could save up to 465 metric tons of CO2 emissions and cut fuel costs by around £263,000 annually compared with its predecessor.

Kreipe expands on this, “In the end it is about limiting and managing the CO2 emissions of the trucks so that they can receive a VECTO certificate. Inside that VECTO certificate there is a calculation where the tyre plays a very significant role, and it is for that reason that the trucks OEMs have a higher focus on rolling resistance than you would probably know from the aftermarket from your average fleet.”

About the author

Richard Wilson is the deputy editor for Commercial Tyre Business. Since 2015, Richard has worked as a correspondent for all of the titles across the Valebridge Publications Ltd Group namely: Retreading Business, Tyre & Rubber Recycling, The Tyreman and Truck and Bus News. Richard has worked on/off from the age of 16 for the company and whilst gaining a Bachelor's Degree in Spanish and Business Studies at Coventry University, he developed his writing skills at the University paper and more recently writing his own independent blog.

Contact: richard.wilson@retreadingbusiness.com

Phone: (44) 1270 668 718

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