The latest rollout from Continental Tire the Americas has so many selling points, the tiremaker said it had to focus its marketing efforts on a handful of key features to streamline the message for consumers.
The new Continental PureContact, which the company touts as a “luxury performance all-season replacement tire,” offers EcoPlus, Comfort Ride and Tuned Performance Indicator technologies – in addition to improved snow grip, a sizeable warranty, luxury styling and more.
The PureContact, which will be available Sept. 4 in 27 H- and V-speed-rated sizes ranging from 15- to 18-inch wheel diameters, was officially unveiled at a dealer event in Indianapolis in mid-June.
The event gave participants seat time on the roads in and around the city – including a lap around the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway – in Cadillac CTS Sedans and Buick Regal CXLs fitted with PureContact tires. While there were no head-to-head comparisons with competitive offerings, CTA’s Joe Maher, passenger product manager, pointed to the Michelin Primacy MXV4 and Bridgestone Turanza Serenity (and the new Turanza Serenity Plus) as the PureContact’s target competition.
Because it is purely a replacement tire, the PureContact is geared toward model year 2007 and newer luxury performance vehicles that come with Goodyear, Bridgestone or Michelin as original equipment – Infiniti, Lexus, Acura, Cadillac, Volvo, Buick, Lincoln, Toyota and Hyundai. “We want to give dealers a tire they can sell that will be very competitively priced and will outperform the OE tire,” Maher said. “It gives dealers the opportunity to create satisfaction for the consumer and to get the consumer to come back for future replacement.”
He added CTA has positioned the PureContact between the ProContact with EcoPlus Technology and the ExtremeContact DWS in terms of the balance of mileage/comfort and sport/performance.
“Our team is constantly working to develop new and innovative technologies to give consumers the best tire we can,” said Travis Roffler, CTA director of marketing. “The PureContact brings together our EcoPlus technology, Comfort Ride technology and Tuned Performance Indicators for a replacement tire that will help drivers save money, be kind to the environment, and arrive to their destinations safely. We’ve constructed a tire that includes the features our customers demand in one tire and we’re proud of that.”
Maher told dealer attendees that the PureContact’s EcoPlus compounding, comprised of “temperature activated functional polymers” and silane, allows for long tread life, “best-in-class” wet braking and wet weather grip, and low rolling resistance. The polymers “also improve wear and fuel efficiency and…can save the consumer money over the life of the tire,” according to CTA.
The tiremaker’s Tuned Performance Indicators consist of the letters “D,” “W” and “S” molded into a tire’s tread at different depths. As the rubber wears, the letters that are still visible indicate the tire’s optimal level of performance in various conditions – dry, wet and snow, respectively.
“It’s an extra measure of confidence for the consumer and is a helpful selling tool for tire dealers in the north,” Maher noted.
He added the PureContact’s Comfort Ride technology is a “continuous comfort band system” designed to absorb road surface vibrations and provide a smooth ride. The tire also features chamfered tread blocks for improved dry braking and lateral grip, and traction grooves for improved snow grip.
With a UTQG rating of 700AA for both H- and V-rated sizes, the PureContact comes with a 60-day customer satisfaction trial and a 70,000-mile or 72-month limited warranty program. CTA also offers 12-month or first 2/32-inch road hazard coverage.
So how did the tire perform during the Indianapolis debut? Dealers in attendance gave positive reviews.
“I think the Tuned Performance Indicator is a great idea for the performance all-season tire category,” noted Paul Fitzgerald, sales representative for Reliable Tire, located in Blackwood, N.J. “The wet braking results should make a splash with the consumer.”
Clint Davis, vice president of TriCan Tire Distributors in Edmonton, Alb., said the PureContact performed “very well,” and noted its appearance was a little more aggressive than he expected. “This will be a good selling feature in the areas where the weather can be quite diverse,” he said.
“I liked the tire’s performance on our city street evaluation; it had good steering input response, and was quiet and comfortable,” said Paul Pittner, director of purchasing and distribution for Buffalo, N.Y.-based Dunn Tire.
He added, “The arena it is competing in is getting very crowded and I am not sure yet how it may differentiate itself in the eyes of the consumer. The overall package (warranty, etc.) is pretty strong, but I don’t know how that will translate to sales. I will have a better idea after our salespeople go through some training and I can get some feedback from them.”
In order to create a significant “launch volume,” CTA opened up the ordering period for the PureContact early, according to Jim Sicking, director of independent dealer sales, who noted this would allow the tiremaker an added tool in meeting demand, rather than relying solely on a forecast.
The tire is being manufactured primarily at Continental’s Mt. Vernon, Ill., plant, in addition to its facility in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.