Over the years, tyres from Chinese manufacturers have been ranked amongst the worst, particularly against their European counter parts. Consistently marked down for performance, wet-braking and handling, a recent study shows that 9 out of the 10 bottom-ranked tyres were manufactured by Chinese brands. On the other hand, they are usually marked fairly well on comfort and wear which are the major priorities in China. The most recent test by Auto Bild that was taken over the summer of 2013, however, saw some changes to these previous results.
The main arena for the test was at Continentals Contidrom test facility in Germany using 205/55 size R 16 tyres on a Volkswagen Golf hatchback. The chosen tyres were put through their paces in a selection of tasks. Representing Europe was the ContiPremium Contact 5, which was manufactured especially for Europe. Against the Continental tyre were 10 of the same size tyres from leading competitor manufacturers from Europe, US and China, with the likes of Michelin, Bridgestone and Goodyear headlining. None of the competitor tyres were European: this is not due to Continental’s doing, but a decision made by AutoBild. The ten tyres were solely manufactured for the Chinese market and are not currently sold in the UK, so on paper they shouldn’t be on our roads at all.
How did they do?
The main tests were braking, handling, noise & comfort, as well as braking and moving in wet conditions. It was surprising that the competitor tyres outperformed the Continental tyre in the noise, ride, comfort and durability stakes, although it should have been expected as these manufacturers generally declare their superiority in these categories – this showed where the Asian and American competitors beat the European market Continental Tyre in all of the aforementioned aspects. As soon as the Chinese tyres were taken out of this comfort zone, however, the results changed dramatically.
The wet braking test separated the ‘men from the boys’. Continental took 45.8M to stop from 61mph; where as the Chinese manufactured Dunlop S1 took a staggering additional 23.7 metres to stop: this was the worst tyre on test. The Chinese market Bridgestone, which won the overall braking test, also won the straight line aquaplaning test with the Dunlop once again at the bottom of the results. After the entire set of wet tests were finished, an average was made with Europe’s Continental taking the lead followed very closely by Bridgestone. There were no surprises that the Dunlop SP Touring T1 came last, failing on the major tests including braking. The one thing to keep in mind is that the Dunlop tyre is not actually created by Goodyear Dunlop and in-fact made in Asia for the Asian market, its also no-coincidence that the tyre scored second best with the external noise, comfort and grip tests. They say that a “Grippy” tyre is naturally a noisy one too – but would you sacrifice grip for comfort and peace?
What do these Results show?
The test shows that neither Tyre is fit for the other countries. With the Chinese brands not handling very well in wet conditions, but the European tyre not being as durable. The Chinese have set high standards with what they want within their tyres. Durability is the main trait, alongside robustness, as their owners will not forgive a tyre brand that leaves them stranded on the side of the road. If you leave the main cities in China, the roads can get pretty dangerous and rugged so why would the Chinese want or need a tyre that performs best on smooth roads in wet weather? On the other hand, Europe as we all know has its lovely sunny days; then (particularly in the UK), enjoys a nice dose of rain. Many of our roads are better than those in China (although we would argue about the pot holes). But the main outcome seems to be that Chinese tyres are not “bad”, but just slightly behind in the tyre development process – is this through circumstance or choice? Why would the Chinese spend money on R&D in developing tyres that can run very well in the rain all year round, when they only receive it during the Monsoon season?
Perhaps the question we should be asking is: How long will it be until the Chinese can start being real competition in Europe?
Source: Wheelwright Blog