One of the most prevalent challenges that powerful, large SUVs and cars with hybrid or electric drive face is that they tend to be heavier than the average car. Since they can’t be fitted with larger tires, they demand special tires that can handle their higher load capacities.
In a recent development, Continental Tire said that it is now making the first tire with the new ‘HL’ load index code for passenger tires. The new Continental tires will be inflated to the same pressure and will boast the required load capacity compared to those built with the ‘XL’ standard.
The new tires will feature the ‘HL’ code on the sidewall just before the size. For example, “HL 245/40 R 19 101 Y XL.’ The load capacity of an HL tire is set at 825 kg (load index 101). This is 10 percent higher than the XL standard which is set at 750 kg (load index 98).
When it comes to tires built to the SL standard, the maximum load they can handle is 670 kg (load index 94). This is normally enough for most cars, including mid-range models. The load capacity of the new HL tires is almost 25% higher. Continental is expecting to see a growth in demand for these tires by OEMs.
To prepare for the new changes, the company said that it had to make adjustments to both the rubber compound and tire structure. This is to help meet the increased load capacity and new customer needs. According to Dr. Stefan Habicht, the head of development of the new tires, the company was dealing with trade-offs that needed a very high-level resolve.
The team went ahead and enhanced the tire contour and reinforced the bead. This helps to reduce road/tire noise. They also optimized the pattern compound. The result was lower rolling resistance to keep mileage and precision handling at their customary level.
Continental is producing the tires to the HL standard for OE fitments only. However, it plans to avail them in the replacement market in the near future.