FORT MILL, SC - Continental Tire the Americas, LLC, is introducing a new and more fuel-efficient version of its best-selling medium-duty steer tire this summer. The HSR2 Eco Plus, available today, is the latest addition to the family of premium steer tires and Continental's answer for achieving fuel savings for the hybrid highway and regional road application.

The HSR2 Eco Plus, when tested with typical loads for this application, showed a 15 percent improvement in rolling resistance over the current HSR2 regional steer tire. This translates to approximately 3 percent greater fuel economy. What is hard to believe, according to Continental engineers, is that this tire will achieve greater fuel efficiency in the combined application than a long haul steer tire.

Why? According to director of radial truck tire technology Roger Stansbie, the HSR2 Eco Plus uses a fuel-efficient compound and has a four rib tread design, which significantly improves rolling resistance. A premium long-haul steer tire, such as Continental's HSL2, typically has a five rib design, along with decoupler grooves in the shoulder, to prevent irregular wear often found with all highway driving.

"The ideal fuel-efficient tire would have no ribs at all," Stansbie said, "creating less drag. The tire's groove patterns and movement in the footprint offer up disruptions to the tire's smooth rotation on the road. So the least number of grooves that we can use will give you better rolling resistance. But when driving on regional roads, you need more mutual contact between the rubber and the road surface. Grooves give you the ability to get traction, especially wet traction, and Continental also included a crucial element for regional driving - our stone ejection technologies."

The HSR2 Eco Plus incorporates some other features of Continental's HSR2 regional steer tire, including:

  • A protective curb rib for high-scrub applications
  • Patented groove geometry that reduces cracking and tearing
  • Proprietary VAI+ system of visual alignment indicators that also demonstrate the tire's tread depth.

The HSR2 Eco Plus is also one of the few regional application tires to be verified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay Transport Partnership as a low rolling resistance truck tire. Based upon data provided by tire manufacturers and EPA testing and research, EPA determined that certain tire models can provide a reduction in NOx emissions and an estimated fuel savings of 3-percent or greater, relative to the "best selling" new tires for line haul trucks, when used on all five axles on long haul class 8 trucks.

Regional tires typically have difficulty qualifying for SmartWay because they often include compounds that reduce chipping and chunking. In the true regional application, which is mainly off highway, Stansbie said the tire has to be able to handle diverse conditions such as potholes and curbs that can often lead to tire damage. If the tread compound, which contributes nearly half of a tire's rolling resistance, is completely engineered toward achieving the greatest fuel efficiency, then it's difficult to achieve the balance needed to make the tire durable in off-highway conditions. Continental's new product, Stansbie said, is the perfect match for handling both highways and regional roads.

"If you run the combined application of some long haul highway traffic and some regional on-road traffic, then the HSR2 Eco Plus has the ideal combination of tread compound and grooves. It's going to be the answer these fleets have been searching for, as far as fuel efficiency goes," Stansbie said.

The HSR2 Eco Plus is produced at Continental's Mt. Vernon, Illinois tire plant and will be available from Continental commercial vehicle tire dealers in size 275/80/R22.5.