Why are premium tyres better? It’s all down to research and development

Why are premium tyres better? It’s all down to research and development

21 Mar

By David Sholicar

It’s why in our latest tyre safety article the Protyre team focus on one very important aspect of the decision making process – explaining why when it comes to deciding between cheaper and premium tyres, the latter are far and away the best choice, and why there’s such a price difference.

Research and development is what makes a premium tyre so much better

Hands up, it’s true. Premium tyre brands, like Continental, are more expensive. But why?

Simple. They spend millions of pounds in research and development (R&D), year after year. They’re relentless in their pursuit of tyre technology improvement, continously innovating so that they can keep up with the phenomenal rate of change that’s taking place in the global automotive sector.

As car design evolves, so to does the requirement of the tyres that are fitted to these new vehicles. Not only is there an ever increasing demand for improved performance, there’s also – just as importantly – the need to enhance your driver safety too. Consider the increasing momentum towards autonomous vehicles; driver safety will be at the heart of both vehicle and tyre technology development, and as a result R&D investment can be expected to grow further.

Take Continental Tyres. This highly regarded premium tyre manufacturer has world class testing centres across the globe, where each year thousands upon thousands of tyres undergo the most exhaustive tests, racking up a distance of over 125 million miles! As a result, before any of their new tyres goes on sale, its prototype forerunners will have been put through a process that involves over 67,000 separate tests, taking them around the equivalent of the world 500 times. Now that’s thorough!

And the result of all this testing?

Faced with a difference in price for a purchase you didn’t want to make in the first place, this is a very important question…

The quailty of premium tyres help to keep you safer

It should be remembered that your tyres are the only contact your car – which may well have all the latest safety features – has with the road surface. Tyres are arguably the most imporatant safety technology that your car has. As such, it’s vital that you have the best tyres fitted, to help improve your driver safety. If your tyres are not of a sufficient quality to keep you in control – such as when cornering or braking – then none of the other technology in your car is going to make much difference, and you and your passengers won’t be adequately protected.

Following exhaustive and rigorous R&D, at the core of premium tyre quality is the compounds they are made from. Tyre makers like Continental precisely refine their rubber compound formulations, as well as their tyre tread patterns and tyre structures. This helps to ensure that they leave the factory exactly as needed for all the different types of vehicles they’re designed for, the multitude of driving conditions they’ll work in, the ever changing UK weather, and more.

And its why almost one in three new cars that come off the automotive production lines in Europe are fitted with Continentals. The tyres these new vehicles are fitted with are known as Original Equipment – ‘OE’. Each tyre is extensively researched, developed and manufactured in partnership with the vehicle maker, and designed to provide optimum performance and driver safety for their specific vehicles. As a result, motorists get to experience the best performance characteristics of their vehicle, and benefit from significantly improved driver safety.

And the real world, practical benefits of high investment in premium tyre R&D? The grip premium tyres provide will be instantly noticeable, particularly in wet weather conditions. They’ll allow you to brake faster when you need it most, providing you with shorter stopping distances.

By comparison, cheaper tyres – with their typically lower-grade rubber compounds – can take as much as 14 metres longer to come to a safe stop on wet road surfaces from a speed of 50mph, when compared to a premium tyre like Continental’s PremiumContact 6. That’s the equivalent of three car lengths!

You don’t have to be a tyre expert to realise that a lot can happen in 14 metres, particularly in town centres, on motorways, and on winding country lanes…

Continental’s ‘AIBA’ – leading the way in tyre safety  

At Continental’s ‘AIBA’ – Automated Indoor Braking Analyser – tyre safety testing is taken to a whole new level. Through the use of a fully automated test process, a multitude of vehicles are relentlessly accelerated to speeds of 75 mph in the “Contidrom”. Here, each tyre’s braking performance is exhaustively tested on a series of interchangeable road surfaces, as well as a diverse range of weather conditions, such as rain and ice.

This process takes place all year round, and the real-time results generated help to inform and define all new tyre development, all in Continental’s quest to provide ever improving driver safety. This and more are at the heart of their Vision Zero safety campaign – Continental’s ambition to help the world achieve “zero fatalities, zero injuries and zero accidents”.

Premium tyres aren’t just safer, they’re also less expensive in the long-run

While it’s true that initially you’ll pay a little more for premium tyres that have been developed in this way, it’s important to not only bear in mind the indisputable safety benefits that these tyres provide you with, but also the financial benefits.

Typically with premium tyres, the rate of tyre wear is – thanks to the investment in research and development – significantly slower, when compared to an exact like for like driving experience on cheaper tyres.

According to leading UK consumer champion, Which?, their tests – based on an annual mileage of 12,000 miles – demonstrate that cheaper tyres only last for two years. By comparison, premium tyres tend to last for five years. Now you don’t have to be a maths protégé to work out which is going to cost you more financially in the long run. And don’t forget, changing your tyres less often reduces time and hassle too.

And there’s more. Not only do premium tyres last longer, they’re also designed to reduce friction, or as it’s better known, “rolling resistance”. The Which? tests also showed that lower rolling resistance leads to you requiring around 80 litres of fuel less each year, not only reducing the amount of money you need to spend, but also resulting in lower CO2 emissions. That’s win-win for both you and the planet.

Talk to the experts. Talk to Protyre

For impartial, expert tyre advice, talk to Protyre. Our experienced team can help you through the often complicated process of choosing the right tyres for your needs. They’ll also be able to help with expert fitting solutions, and more.

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David Sholicar

David is the National Retail Operations Manager for Protyre. One of David’s areas of responsibility and ...

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