This post is also available in: German
In the first week of February the launch of the new winter tires WinterContact TS 850 P took place. As a reward for coming first at the Science Slam I was able to attend the “Launch Event” in Schladming, Austria together with three other students. I took the train from Hanover to Salzburg where we were picked up und transferred to Schladming. Needless to say the cars we took were equipped with the new winter tires!
The “Launch Event” was an event for journalists. Therefore the information was given in great detail. If the event had been for Conti people a lot more specific knowledge about the company and the processes would have been implied. That was perfect for me, as I don’t write my Master’s thesis in the tire division and was able to learn a lot of new things. For example how much time the development of new tires takes (several years!) and which steps such a process involves, but also how the perfect rubber mixture is found and how the profile of the winter tires evolved from the first winter tires in the 1950ies to today. I didn’t know that there are winter tires (made by Conti) for scooters and even for bicycles. Especially interesting were the little tidbits that were told in between. During the development the car manufacturers focus on different abilities that the tire needs to have. One manufacturer of sports cars wants the tire to perform particularly good at high speeds, others focus more on the rolling resistance that is related to the fuel consumption. Some of the car manufacturers want to be involved in almost every step during the development of the tires, others are almost only interested in the final product. Also the sales market plays an important role. The Europeans buy quite a lot of winter tires due to legal regulations, in the States people mostly use all-season tires and in hot countries like Brasil there is no need for winter tires. The later the evening got, the more interesting the topics became 🙂 .
Test Drive with the new Tires
The “theoretical” part took place Tuesday afternoon and evening. On the next day, Wednesday, we went on practically. We were taken to the specifically prepared test tracks to test the new tires. Unfortunately the weather was too warm and instead of snow we had something more like snow slush. Winter tires need to perform excellent and safe on both surfaces, but certain tests are carried out on certain surfaces to be comparable. So “our” tests were not meaningful and the measured data had no further use. Eventhough it was a fun experience and the explanations were once again very informative. The cars are full of sensors and technique to evaluate the tire objectively with the measured data. On top of that the tire is evaluated by test drivers. I have great respect for the test drivers. I would probably be able to determine the braking distance but to feel the differences between single tires is absolutely demanding. After the test drives we students were able to take a look behind the scenes of such a big event. We were told how a PR event is organised, what the objective is and how to measure the success at the end. On top of that we had the chance to ask the head of the winter tire development about his career and got some valuable tipps for our own plans. At lunch we continued to pepper him with questions. When do you get such an opportunity? Before leaving for home we took a photo of all of us, of course with the winter tires on it, too. Then we were safely taken to the train. Simply overwhelmed by all the experiences and impressions I almost slept through my stop back in Hanover. If you want to know more about how I got to the event please read my article about the Science Slam.