Fort Mill, October 15, 2018. Continental is celebrating a milestone birthday: ninety years ago, the technology company launched its first pneumatic tractor tire onto the market. What started life as an innovative product idea in 1928 developed over the subsequent decades into a success story. Market innovations, such as the T2 and T4 tractor tires in the 1920s and 1930s, and the AS farmer tire in 1955, are what characterize the company’s tradition. The company is now continuing this established tradition with its new premium radial tires with flexible N.flex carcass, new d.fine cleat technology and special bead design.
“Over the last ninety years, we have repeatedly proven how agriculture customers all over the world can rely on Continental as a partner to provide innovative and efficient solutions,” says Enno Straten, Head of Commercial Specialty Tires (CST) at Continental. “Mega-trends such as digitization, connectivity and automation are significantly changing the face of the agricultural sector and the everyday work of farmers, and the productivity of agricultural machinery, including suitable tires, plays a key role in this. For this reason, we will continue our work to develop and expand our portfolio of agricultural tire in the future.”
Innovators From the Start
The story of Continental’s agricultural tires begins in 1928, when the company launched Europe’s first pneumatic agricultural tire onto the market in the form of the T2 agricultural tractor tire (AS). It was only four years later when the next development, the T3 AS tire, was impressing customers with its optimized tread and improved tractive force. Continental revolutionized the market once again in 1938: as Germany’s first tire manufacturer, the company decided not to link individual tread lugs in its new T4 AS tire. Since then, the tread lugs in agricultural tractor tires have been separated in the tread center, which created a higher tractive force. What is more, minimal slip ensured effective interlocking with the soil, rendering chains and grippers redundant. Finally, in 1955, an especially robust and high-grip tire arrived on the market in the form of the Continental Farmer (AS). Thanks to a new ribbing with tapered, reinforced cleats, widening of the lug tread and improved self-cleaning properties, the Farmer tire demonstrated a 20 percent increase in traction on virtually all soils compared with previous models.
Internationalization and Sale of License to CGS/Mitas
Continental was expanding its business internationally by the end of the 20th century, and markets in North America and Europe formed the focus of its expansion in particular. In 2004, the agricultural tire segment was sold off as a result of concentrating its business as a whole. In the course of this sale, the license for production and marketing agricultural tires under the Continental brand passed to CGS/Mitas. The development and sale of products and solutions from the Continental Automotive segment continued unaffected, and customer demand for Continental’s agricultural tires continued to increase.
2017: The Success Story Continues
In 2016, Continental reacquired its brand rights ahead of schedule, and returned to the agricultural tire market in 2017 with its Tractor70 and Tractor85 premium radial tires. Both tires originate from in-house production: they are made in the new state-of-the-art production facility in Lousado, Portugal. The tires are characterized by their extreme robustness and durability, while at the same time guaranteeing a high degree of ride comfort, soil preservation and tractive force. Both standard tires feature Continental’s innovative, patented N.flex technology, which increases impact absorption thanks to the nylon textile, and improves shock absorption thanks to its robust carcass. In August 2018, Continental added the new TractorMaster radial tire with leading-edge D.fine technology to its portfolio. There is no end in sight to the ninety year-long success story, though. Continental will also be expanding its portfolio of agricultural radial tires, and it will offer a total of 100 sizes by 2019.