Continental, the world's fourth largest tyre manufacturer and the leading car tyre manufacturer in Europe, has until recently only sold its tyres via a wholesaler here in Australia.
But with more quality-savvy customers chasing like-for-like original equipment tyres for their cars, and a growing awareness of the implications tyre technology has over road safety among Australian motorists, the timing of Continental's 'BestDrive' outlets to meet this growing demand couldn't be better.
The news comes as the last of our local tyre manufacturers, Bridgestone, pulls up stumps. From next year, Australia will import 100 per cent of its automotive tyres.
Continental, who as a company have been around since 1871, hope its image as a internationally recognised premium brand will bode well with buyers who expect nothing but the best from their tyres.
“In overseas countries, particularly Europe, Continental is a household name and whilst our products have had a presence in this country for the last 15 years, we hope to build on that success with our growing distribution network and next generation product range to ultimately achieve the same recognition,” Marketing Manager of Continental Tyres, Australia, Gareth Taylor said.“Continental has identified the Australasian market as a major expansion platform and Australia as a key growth market within those plans, with the BestDrive concept an integral part of this strategy.”
The first concept store, which will focus on truck and heavy vehicle fleet sectors, is set to open its doors in Q3 of this year, joining more than 1,000 such centres around the globe. A chain to suit passenger and light commercial vehicles will follow soon after.
Mr Taylor says that the Commercial BestDrive centres will include sales of new products, service, warranty and training and will allow Dealers to benefit from Continental’s corporate resources, decades of technical competence and know-how and premium marketing support.
“Continental Best Drive dealers are our most valuable R & D partners, they play a vital role in communicating customer feedback, they are in fact our front line. It is this communication process that enables Continental to continually grow our business and provide the latest in cutting edge technology and service offerings,” explained Mr Taylor.
Visiting Continental's brand new office and distribution complex in Bundoora, Victoria today, CarAdvice also had a first look at the brand's new marketing campaign, which will use Continental's leverage of its sponsorship of the 2010 World Cup.
The ad will air tonight during Channel 9's TopGear program, but for a sneak peak, we've attached the video below.
With sales exceeding €24 billion in 2008, the Continental Corporation is one of the top automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for the powertrain and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tyres and technical elastomers, the corporation contributes towards enhanced driving safety and protection of the global climate.Continental is also a competent partner in networked automobile communication. The corporation currently employs approximately 134,000 at nearly 190 locations in 37 countries including 242 staff here in Australia.
Continental, who also own Siemens VDO in Australia, invest heavily in the development and engineering of a range of car componentry for locally produced cars, supplying items such as HVAC control units, dashboard assemblies, instrumentation panels and infotainment units to Ford, Holden and Toyota.
The local team also supplies instrument clusters to Isuzu Trucks and BMW Motorrad, producing some 60,000 (or 70 per cent of BMW Motorrad's annual build) high quality, all-weather units for export to Germany each year.
While touring Continetal's Bundoora facility today, the team also gave CarAdvice a brief look at how its ContiSeal tyres work, with a demonstration showing how this innovative technology temporarily seals punctures in the tyre's tread area.
The tyres have a sticky, viscous layer from shoulder to shoulder that instantly seals punctures caused by nails and other objects (up to 5mm in diameter), as seen in the video below.
The material in the sealant layer prevents air loss even if the penetrating object becomes dislodged, which means the technology is able to resolve almost 85 per cent of all tyre failures.As a result drivers are not forced to stop straight away or change the tyre immediately, however Continental recommends the tyre should still be taken to a tyre specialist as soon as possible to determine if the tyre is in need of a permanent repair.A demonstration of Continental's run-flat tyres - as fitted to many BMW and MINI vehicles in Australia and overseas - is also included below.
ContiSeal tyres and run-flat tyres are already available in Australia, along with the complete Continental range to suit a wide variety of vehicle types and Australia’s varied driving conditions.For an interesting overview of Continental's 139-year history, click on this link.