Modern Tire Dealer

MAR 2019

Magazine for the professional tire industry

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Page 28 of 77

27 w w w . M o d e r n T i r e D e a l e r . c o m W hy is the Continen- tal VikingContact 7 replacing two tires? Because its perfor- mance is superior to the two Continental tires it is replacing -- the WinterContact SI in North America, and the VikingContact 6 in Europe's Scan- dinavian countries and Russia. At the recent launch of the tire in the U.S. and Canada, Timur Yilkiran, project leader for Continental winter tire development worldwide, compared the performance features of the new tire versus the Winter- Contact SI. Engineers were charged "with improving ice braking performance, snow traction and overall handling — with little or no tradeoffs in other areas." e result? e performance of the latest generation of the studless tire was significantly better in ice braking. It also was better in dry braking and a little better in snow traction. As a bonus, the tire is less noisy during highway driving. "Snow handling was a wash between the two tires," he said. "Only in wet braking was the WinterContact SI superior, and there was only a 2% difference." Yilkiran said 2% was pretty low consider- ing wet traction is a "target conflict" when improving ice breaking is the goal. e results were similar when comparing the VikingContact 7 to the Viking Contact 6. COMPOUND INTEREST e VikingContact 7 was developed using what Continental calls "active grip silica." Engineers use silica in tire compounding to improve wet traction. e company combined silica with canola oil to help the tire grip on wet surfaces and stay flexible in very low temperatures. Continental says the tread pattern's sym- metric main grooves form a direct water and slush discharge from the middle straight out of the pattern. In addition, the optimal balance between grooves and blocks "always offers a high contact area," which gives the driver more control, even at high speed. e pattern is also designed with: • interlocking elements that help provide structural stability; • "snow pockets" (i.e., wide sipes) that, when filled with snow, take advantage of snow-on-snow traction; • numerous 3D sipes with different sipe thicknesses for winter grip. Yilkiran said the tire's improved ice braking comes from the combination of its proprietary compound and unique tread design. 1 + 1 = 1 e company's flagship winter tires are being produced in Korbach, Germany, and Puchov, Slovakia. Perry Fu, product specialist for Continental Tire Canada Inc., said the VikingContact 6 was available in more sizes than the WinterContact SI, but wasn't sold in North America. By replacing two tires with one, Con- tinental "was able to take advantage of economies of scale." e new tire line is available worldwide in 91 P-metric SKUs, including three SSR (Self-Supporting Run flat) sizes. By comparison, the WinterContact SI was available in 38 sizes in the U.S. and 44 in Canada. "We added quite a bit of range for the VikingContact 7 because we needed to improve the market coverage," added Fu. Yilkiran said the VikingContact 7's size complement covers 87% of the market, ranging from sub-compact cars to full-size SUVs and light trucks. Mid-size CUVs also are among the targeted vehicles. e tire will compete against the Bridge- stone Blizzak WS90, Michelin X-Ice XI3, Toyo Observe GSi05, Pirelli Ice Zero FR and Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3. Continental has already started develop- ment on the successor to the VikingContact 7, according to Yilkiran. "Our standard life cycle for this product is four to five years." ■ Ice braking news CONTINENTAL TRADES 2 WINTER TIRES FOR THE VIKINGCONTACT 7 W i n t e r T i r e s Bob Ulrich By 91 SKUs, including run-flats The VikingContact 7 is available in 91 sizes ranging from145/65R15 72T to 235/35R20 97T XL. Here is the size breakdown: 15-inch = 11 sizes; 16-inch = 16 sizes; 17-inch = 26 sizes (two SSR); 18-inch = 20 sizes (one SSR); 19-inch = 12 sizes; 20-inch = 6 sizes. "It is a big improvement in terms of the market coverage" compared to the Win- terContact SI, said Perry Fu, product specialist for Continental Tire Canada Inc. Continental-snow-in-tread-19: The new tire's tread pattern features plenty of sip- ing, including snow pockets designed to collect the snow, then use its friction on a snowy surface for better traction. TJ Campbell, tire information specialist for The Tire Rack Inc., tests the new Con- tinental VikingContact 7 on snow and ice in Montreal, Quebec.

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