BIG SKY, Mont.—Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C. is enhancing its winter tire offerings with the launch of the Continental WinterContact/SI and the General Grabber Arctic LT, the company's first light truck winter tire.
Conti showcased the two new products—and provided a sneak peek at the winter performance of the soon-to-be introduced successor to its ultra-high-performance Continental ExtremeContact DWS—during a ride-and-drive event at Yellowstone Airport in West Yellowstone, Mont.
Tire dealers and distributors from the U.S. and Canada tested the tires on a series of driving courses on the airport's snow-covered runways, including braking, acceleration and lateral handling.
Located at an elevation of 6,664 feet above sea level, Yellowstone Airport is closed in the winter and is managed by the Nevada Automotive Test Center for use by car and tire companies for testing and driving events such as Continental's Winter Tire Blast.
The WinterContact/SI is targeted for use on passenger cars, minivans and CUVs, Conti said, and features the tire maker's patented silane-based PolarPlus+ Technology to provide enhanced grip in snow, ice and wet driving conditions.
PolarPlus+ Technology allows the tread compound to stay pliable in cold temperatures offering a significant improvement over all-season tires in areas where the temperature falls below 45°F consistently, Conti said. This is achieved in part through the use of +Silane additives, as well as traction grooves that provide biting edges for improved traction.
Improve dry and ice performance
Tanja Wackerhage, tire developer for Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH, who was the project leader for the WinterContact/SI, said the goal in developing the tire was to improve dry as well as ice performance.
She said the tire has a stiffer tread pattern “and in spite of this, we improved ice performance, as well.”
The tire features a new concept using alternating sipes that enhance longitudinal and lateral traction. In addition, it offers improved rolling resistance, she said.
Continental demonstrated the tire's performance during the ride-and-drive as dealers compared its handling performance on the snow-packed runways on vehicles featuring four WinterContact/SIs, four all-season tires and a car equipped with two winter tires on the front axle and two all-season tires on the rear axle.
The difference in performance between the vehicle with winter tires on both axles and the other two configurations clearly was experienced, even for the non-professional driving tire dealers and trade press media.
The new tire replaces the ExtremeWinterContact in Conti's portfolio. It's being sourced from Conti plants in Europe, the company said.
Continental is backing the WinterContact/SI with road hazard coverage (12 months or first 2/32 inch) as well as a 72-month manufacturer's limited warranty. Also offered is a 30-day customer satisfaction trial.
Conti did not disclose pricing information.
The tire, which has an extra load rating, will be available in 22 sizes from 15-inch to 20-inch wheel diameters and T- and H-speed ratings
Tire dealers also learned about and test drove the new Grabber Arctic LT, the General brand's newest, studdable winter tire.
Targeted at owners of light trucks, the Grabber Arctic LT offers all-weather performance thanks to a strong, cut and chip resistant tread compound that maintains cold-weather flexibility, traction and long even wear, the company said.
Eight sizes available
Torsten Heinhaupt, development engineer of the Grabber Arctic LT for Continental Reifen Deutschland, said the tire offers a number of design enhancements that improve its performance on ice and snow.
This includes siping continuing and elevating circle downward which maximizes sipe lengths and maximizes snow traction, he said. The tire also has stabilizing in the buttress area giving additional traction edges and stabilizing the shoulder blocks.
The Grabber Arctic LT's use of DuraGen Technology provides additional stability under load conditions with responsive handling and even treadwear, Continental said.
Continental is backing the Grabber Arctic LT with a 30-day customer satisfaction trial. The tire is offered in eight LT sizes from 16-inch to 20-inch rim diameters with an R speed rating.
Orders for the tire will begin in April. Conti is making the tire at its Mount Vernon, Ill., plant.
Eric Vance, team education specialist for Tire Rack Inc., who drove on the Grabber Arctic LT fitted on a Ford F150, said the tire felt safe and secure “and very forgiving. It gave you confidence it was going to grip.”
He gave a similar opinion about the WinterContact/SI, noting it too provided excellent grip and was very forgiving.
Vance called the Continental Winter Blast ride and drive an excellent experience.
“Continental did a great job showing the winter performance of these tires today,” he said. “It's an excellent way, putting you out here in the elements, to be able to push the envelope in a safe environment and see what they can do,” he said.