The German company wants to be 100% carbon neutral by then.
Continental has announced that, by 2050, it aims to produce tires from sustainable materials.
That date is still some time away, but the German brand is already looking into which materials will make their way into tire construction. This includes components like recycled rubber, PET bottles, and even rubber from dandelions. Creating a sustainable tire worthy of the Continental name will prove challenging, as the company notes a passenger car tire can consist of up to 100 different raw materials.
The combination of these materials is important, as it impacts the durability and a vehicle's handling. In the future, natural rubber - a mainstay in current tire production techniques - will remain in use. Continental says this substance accounts for up to 40% of the weight of a modern high-performance tire.
While it's a natural material, Continental says it will only consider this sustainable if it is sourced ethically. As such, the company has embarked on a process that will improve transparency and traceability across the value chain. Furthermore, Continental wants to reduce its dependency on rubber sourced from southeast Asia.
With help from partners, the tire giant hopes to industrialize the harvesting of natural rubber from cultivated dandelion plants.
Another key component in tire production is silica. This material is used to improve tire life and grip. Continental will look to rice husks in the future, which can be used to create silica that's not only more energy-efficient but devoid of any waste. The husks are a waste product of rice production and can't be used for food or animal feed - except tires in 2050, of course.
"Recycled raw materials are going to play a big role in making tires more sustainable. We use recycled materials whenever possible. Comparable quality and material properties to conventional raw materials are crucial for us," said the head of sustainability at Continental, Claus Petschick.
The company is looking into using polyester yarn from recycled bottles. Through the ContiRe.Tex technology, the manufacturer has developed a way to reuse between nine and 15 plastic bottles per tire, depending on the tire size. Continental has already used recycled PET plastic in the structures of some tire casings.
There are also plans to include recycled rubber from old tires as part of new rubber compounds.
"Continental is on the road toward becoming the most progressive manufacturer in the tire industry in terms of sustainability. We aim to use 100 percent sustainable materials in our tire products by 2050 at the latest," added Petschick.
2050 is the latest date at which Continental wants to achieve its goal. Before we know it, gearheads will be creating clouds of smoke in Ford Mustang muscle cars equipped with these eco-friendly tires.
Rival company Goodyear is also working on sustainable alternatives for the future. In 2020, the company unveiled a concept that can regenerate its own tread. Elsewhere, Michelin has developed the world's first carbon-neutral tire. The e.Primacy also boasts an ultra-low rolling resistance that reduces fuel usage. When fitted to electric vehicles, it has the ability to increase range too.
Sustainable tires will go a long way to making vehicles more environmentally friendly, as studies have shown EV tires are particularly bad for the environment.
Join The Discussion