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Continental introduces new General tire at Gold Dealer meeting

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A new General brand tire line, an update on plant expansion activity, Gold Dealer Program enhancements and continued marketing investments in its brands were the key topics of discussion at the Continental Tire the Americas LLC Gold Dealer meeting on Monday, April 15, 2013.

Due to launch in August, the General Altimax RT43 will be shipped to distributors in July. The tire is planned to replace its current Altimax RT line, which launched in 2007.

Joe Maher, passenger and performance product manager for Continental, said the new tire has been three years in development. The tire is positioned to compete in the value segment of the market for consumers who currently have T- or H-rated OE tires and are more interested in mileage than sporty performance, says Maher.

The tire is being launched in 44 sizes in T- and H- speed ratings and rim sizes of 13-inch to 18-inch. It will come in 50- to 70-series aspect ratios and from 175 mm to 235 mm widths. Maher says the tire will carry a 75,000-mile tread wear warranty.

Maher says the General RT43 features a new construction design that will help improve tread wear without sacrificing other performance attributes. The tread pattern for the new tire is different from the General RT. This construction will be used in other value lines offered by the company moving forward.

The General RT43 will use the company's Monitor Technology which includes Replacement Tire Monitor (RTM), a tread wear monitoring system, and Visual Alignment Indicator (VAI) for early monitoring of alignment wear conditions.

The tire is being positioned to compete against the Cooper CS4 Touring T, BFGoodrich Advantage T/A, Firestone Precision Touring, Hankook Optimo H727 and the Kumho Solus KR21. 

Jim Sicking, director of independent dealer sales, PLT Replacement Business Unit, addressed the pressing issue of supply and fill rates. He said the company has invested heavily in its factories. "We are in the best situation in six years with supply. We are not perfect, but it's the best since I've been with the company."

Continental has moved molds for its OE tires for the domestic market to its European plants since European tire demand is light at the present time. This is allowing the company to concentrate on replacement tire supply in the U.S.

Sicking said the Mt. Vernon, Ill., plant's planned 30% production increase is almost done. In fact, Sicking said the company's production increases, including its new Sumter, S.C., factory, are ahead of schedule. He said the company's Brazilian plant is the only one lagging behind schedule.

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