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Continental Tyres: Keeping Drivers Safe for 250 Years

In this article, we look at why Continental Tyres is one of the leading brands of car tyres and how they have been keeping drivers safe for more than two centuries. We also look at some company history, along with a selection of notable and current innovations.

Continental Tyre Group Ltd. is the UK company that distributes these tyres within Britain and Ireland. Based in Drayton, Middlesex, their mission statement states that they endeavour to provide professional service and quality, by meeting and exceeding customer needs. In addition to supplying OEM (original equipment) to major car manufacturers, Continental also supplies replacement tyres for cars, vans, SUVs (sports utility vehicles) or 4x4s, trucks, buses and industrial vehicles. The company also supplies tyres under the brand names Semperit and Uniroyal in addition to its own name, all in a wide range of products and sizes.

Company history can be traced back to a German factory producing rubber products. The company started manufacturing pneumatic tyres for bicycles and motorcars in the late 1800s, just before the turn of the twentieth century. The first tyres had no treads and in 1901, a Daimler car won the Nice to Salon car race using these tyres. The first treaded tyre was produced in 1904, with an anti-skid design being brought out the following year. Synthetic rubber was invented in 1909, along with the vulcanising process in tyre manufacturing which was later introduced more widely into mainstream tyre manufacturing in the mid 1930s. Tubeless tyres followed some twenty years later, in the 1950s. Radial tyres with their greater intrinsic strength (as opposed to their cross-ply forerunners) were introduced in 1960.

The company expanded into France in 1964, and some twenty years later in 1985 the Austrian company Semperit was taken. General Tire Inc. (a U.S. manufacturer) was subsequently acquired in 1987, and the Portuguese company Mabor just two or three years later. Towards the end of the 1990s, the company added sites in Slovakia, South Africa, Argentina, Mexico and subsequently Romania.

Following the maxim ‘prevention is better than cure’, Continental has been at the forefront of helping to develop active safety systems in motor vehicles. This has improved the safety offered by vehicles with necessary but only passive design features – such as seat belts, head restraints and air bags. Ever since the first ABS (anti-lock braking system) unit was seen in 1984 on the Ford Scorpio, these active systems have been progressively developed and improved. Within four or five years, Continental was producing half a million ABS units a year.
These days, a modern ABS unit weighs approximately one kilogram – less than a tenth of its original predecessor, yet with equal performance. ABS has been rolled out to 250 million cars, including those fitted with the more modern ESC (Electronic Stability Control), which further enhances ABS by slightly reducing engine power when necessary. This helps to regain stability and to stop sliding.

Cars with such safety equipment have much better chances of avoiding fatal accidents in emergency braking and adverse or unforeseen conditions. ESC is usually unnoticeable when driving, except for an occasional flash of a warning light on the instrument panel. Continental would like to see the system installed on every car, as it is considered a real lifesaver.

Tyres Northampton are proud stockists of the highest quality tyres from the leading brands, including Continental. We also stock and fit a range of budget tyres too, so get in touch with us today to see what we can do.


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