Continental Talks EVs, Marketing at Gold Dealer Meeting

March 22, 2023

Updates on key Continental Tire the Americas LLC marketing initiatives and the company’s approach to tires for electric vehicles (EVs) are hot topics at this week’s Continental Gold Dealer meeting in Playa Mujeres, Mexico.

Chris Charity, vice president of sales, U.S. PLT replacement business, Continental, said roughly 300 dealers representing 782 locations qualified for and were invited to the event. In total, there are 3,500 dealers who participate in the Continental Gold program.

Charity said that 36 new dealers qualified for the Continental Gold program and are attending the meeting. In total, nearly 700 people are attending the event. (The Continental Gold Program started in 2005.)

 Position on EV tires

During the Gold Dealer meeting, Joe Maher, product manager for Continental, explained the company’s position on tires for EVs.

Currently, Continental has fitments on seven of the top ten selling EVs, with overall coverage for 50% of new OE fitments and 100% of replacement EV fitments.

He said that it is estimated that by 2030, 50% of new vehicles sold will be EVs. However, EVs will account for just 15% of the total number of vehicles in operation at that time.

Maher was quick to point out to dealers that they needed to be aware of what type of vehicles were in their market, as San Francisco, Calif., for example, already has a large population of EVs, while San Antonio, Texas, as another example, does not.

Continental’s replacement EV tire performance focus is typically on grip and tread life, while the OE side is more about range and low noise, said Maher, who addressed five different “EV market perceptions:” efficiency, weight, torque, range and noise.

While Continental produces tires for EVs, Maher made it clear that the company does not make tires solely designed for EV fitments.

He also mentioned that there are a wide number of factors that affect an EV’s range, which is a very important concern of EV purchasers. Ambient temperature, use of air conditioning, use of a heater, driving speed and tires all can determine a vehicle’s range, he noted.

In most cases, according to Maher, tires were not the contributing factor to range. (He estimated that tires had up to a 10% influence on range. The compromise when designing a tire is how to maintain tread life, impact resistance and wet weather handling, while addressing rolling resistance, he explained.)

Marketing update

Travis Roffler, Continental’s director of marketing, told dealers that everything that his team does is aimed at “driving the consumer to you.” He used the marketing phrase for the Continental line, “The Smart Choice in Tires,” as an example. The intent behind the campaign is to drive consumers to tire dealers.

“Technically, people don’t understand tires. They do understand what the tire delivers.”

A major marketing initiative for Continental continues to be its partnership with Major League Soccer (MLS), which the company started in 2010. Roffler said the league is the fastest -growing professional sports league in the U.S. and has expanded to include 29 teams. Continental has a contract to be a sponsor through 2025.

Continental is continuing its sponsorship of NCAA college basketball, with 30 separate schools, as well as pre-conference tournaments in November and December of this year. The season will end with sponsorships of conference championships, with the Big East, Big Ten and Big 12 in March 2024.

Continental’s sponsorship of the new Toyota Gazoo Racing (GR) Cup series starts later this month. The road racing series takes place at seven venues and is held during IndyCar race events. Continental is the series’ official tire supplier and partner through 2026.

Roffler also said the company is also continuing its marketing support of the General brand.

The General brand’s Major League Fishing (MLF) sponsorship that began in 2012 will continue, as well as its contract as the sponsor of the ARCA racing series that began in 2016.

Late last year, the General brand became the title sponsor of the ArenaCross motocross series that “filled a hole in the company’s activation during that time of year.”

Both Roffler and Debbie Richards, Gold program manager, told dealers about the opportunities in “getting involved in the credit card decision” by consumers. They emphasized advantages for both the Gold dealer and the tire buyer.

In addition, Richards pointed out the other industry partners who had aligned with Continental to supply Gold dealers with additional value and cost savings for their businesses.

The importance of Gold dealers to Continental was summed up by Richards who said that “people matter. It’s why people buy from you instead of a chain.”

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