History of the tyre
Gentyre Pty Ltd. then – The General Tyre and Rubber Company (SA) Pty Ltd – was established in 1947 by the Williams Hunt Group, South Africa, and General Tyres International in Akron, Ohio.
The manufacturing facility was built in Port Elizabeth in 1948 and by the end of 1950, tyres, tubes and repair materials were being sold in South Africa, the Rhodesias (now Zambia and Zimbabwe), Nyasaland (Malawi) and South West Africa (Namibia).
The Company continued to expand through the 1950’s and in the early 1960’s General steelbelted radial ply tyres were introduced in the market.
In 1978, General Tyre in South Africa concluded a technical service agreement with Continental AG in Germany – the first formal association between the two companies – which gave the Company access to the technology required to build high performance steelbelt radial ply tyres in South Africa.
In 1985, the association was further consolidated when Continental in Germany approved the production of Continental branded products by General Tyre at its factory in Port Elizabeth.
Continental tyres were launched in South Africa in 1986 and quickly achieved success in both the original equipment and replacement markets.
Internationally, the 1987 acquisition of General Tyre USA by Continental AG, further reinforced the association between the Continental and General brands in South Africa and helped create new product opportunities.
A major milestone for General Tyre in South Africa – and an important acknowledgement of the company’s technical capability – was the approval for Continental branding of a range of South African designed and developed recreational vehicle (RV) tyres – which had previously been marketed as General branded products.
The General Tyre and Rubber Company also introduced Continental commercial steelbelted radial ply tyres – where they have been particularly well received in the uniquely South African minibus taxi market. Limited numbers of imported Continental heavy truck tyres have been introduced in South Africa and exciting opportunities exist for the local manufacture of these and other giant truck tyres.
Offering outstanding tyre life and excellent value for money, General branded products remain a South African favourite and have a high level of acceptance in other Southern African markets.
In 1994, the General Sportiva range of steelbelted radial ply tyres, based on a highly successful European design, was launched in South Africa at the upper end of the economy segment of the market and has set new standards for General in the domestic passenger tyre market as a tyre offering modern features and affordable all-round performance.
General crossply and radial ply light and heavy truck tyres have a long-established reputation in South Africa as dependable, durable, hard-working tyres and are found in every industrial, commercial, building and haulage application.
South African agriculture as well as the mining and logging industries are extensively supplied with locally manufactured General tyres. As with all Gentyre products, these are backed by comprehensive after-sales, service and technical support from the factory and by a nationwide dealer and field service network.
Over the past four years, Continental Tyre SA has invested over R200 million in the modernisation and upgrading of its research, development and manufacturing facilities. The Company now has the only holographic tyre inspection facility in the Southern Hemisphere and manufactures exceptionally high quality products which meet the exacting construction and uniformity requirements of its overseas technology parents. Most recently, programmes have been implemented to further streamline production and optimise factory utilisation as the Company prepares to become an increasingly competitive supplier to domestic and export markets.
Continental Tyre SA has achieved notable success through Continental in the original equipment market – particularly in the high performance passenger tyre categories. With an overwhelming dominance of production car racing in South Africa, Continental became highly visible as a leading performance tyre – and three leading motor manufacturers chose Continental tyres to establish nearly every South African speed and endurance record over the past 6 years.
Reaffirming its performance heritage, Continental introduced the first locally manufactured Z-speed rated tyre in South Africa in 1992. In the same year, they also introduced the first high performance 16-inch tyre – the 205/55ZR16 CZ90. In 1994, Continental again asserted its position at the forefront of leading edge technology in South Africa with the introduction of the first locally manufactured 17-inch tyre – the 235/40ZR17 CZ90 – fitted as original equipment on the BMW M3 sports coupe’.
Continental tyres are now approved as original equipment on all leading South African manufactured high performance saloons and sports hatchbacks -manufactured by BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Opel, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda and Ford.
- 2003 – Continental Tyre SA in bold new partnership move Continental Tyre South Africa (Pty) Ltd, a leading premium brand tyre manufacturer and distributor, heralded in 2003 with the first direct Black Empowerment equity holding in the tyre manufacturing industry in the form of Vulisango Industries.Continental Tyre S.A. (Pty) Ltd is the Regional Headquarters for tyre manufacturing and distribution for Continental A.G’s Tyre Division, in sub Saharan Africa.Vulisango, which is a Xhosa word meaning “open gate”, has a 26% equity stake in Continental Tyre S.A. which it purchased from WACO. The remaining 14% equity held by WACO was purchased by Continental A.G. The German registered multinational now has 74% equity in Continental Tyre S.A. The deal was concluded mid December 2002 and became effective on 1 January 2003. Vulisango’s stakeholding entitles them to two Board seats in Continental Tyre S.A. Continental Tyre SA and its majority stakeholder, Continental AG, are both fully supportive of the Government’s initiative in increasing the stake of the previously disadvantaged groups in the economy. In entering into a partnership with Vulisango there would be several advantages for the company and its majority shareholder, Continental A.G. In return, both Continental Tyre SA and Continental AG will seek to actively transfer skills to the new partner.Vulisango was chosen specifically because of the value that it can add to the business, its strong Eastern Cape roots and its willingness to enter into a meaningful partnership.“ I see Continental Tyre SA as a microcosm of South African society, with all races, genders and social elements combined in one place. Continental Tyre SA and Vulisango will show how relationships between races and genders can work and be very successful. I see us as a role model to the rest of South Africa, to be used as a bench mark for other Black Empowerment relationships.” Stated Mr.Mkele, Chairman of Vulisango Industries.
- 2002 – The launch of the Moments TV Commercial. It is the first advertisement in South Africa to use thousands of still photographs to represent movement, with black and white imagery linked to classical music. The final result was a never before seen type of Television Commercial that caught the attention of the public and set new standards in advertising.
- 2001 – Continental Tyre SA (Pty) Ltd. won an Exporter of the year merit award.
- 2000 – Continental Tyre SA (Pty) Ltd. won an Exporter of the year merit award. Continental Tyre SA (Pty) Ltd. becomes the first South African Tyre Manufacturer to supply tyres to the production line of an overseas vehicle manufacturer, namely Mercedes Benz. The tyre size was 225/70 R15C for the Sprinter Van.
- 1999 – Continental Tyre SA (Pty) Ltd. won the Exporter of the year award for the East Cape Region.
- 1998 – Continental AG acquires majority shareholding of 60% in General Tyre SA. Company is renamed Continental Tyre SA (Pty) Ltd. Won the State Presidents Award for Export achievement, and the PMR Golden Arrow Award (ie. confirming the brands preffered status with national fleet owners and Chief Executives).
- 1993 – Won 15 out of 19 Group “N production National car racing championships and the overall Production car championships for four consecutive years.
- 1992 – Manufacture of the first Z-rated tyres in South Africa, with the stunning ultra-low profile 235/40 ZR17 fitted exclusively to the BMW M3 Sports coupe which also set the SA standard production land speed record of 272.27km/h.
- 1991 – Continental branded range was extended with the introduction of the first locally developed commercial tyres to cater for the minibus-taxi, one-tonner bakkie and off-the-road markets.
- 1986 – The first Continental-branded passenger tyres were launched in South Africa.
- 1985 – Continental AG and General Tyre SA signed agreement to manufacture Continental branded tyres in South Africa.
- 1982 – Official opening (by the then-Minister of Transport, Mr. Hendrick Schoeman) of the first steel radial truck tyre plant in South Africa. Tyres introduced: Steelex RS 570, RS 580 and the General Steelhaul 41.
- 1979 – General Tyre sponsored the UPE Chair of Elastomer and Polymer Science to provide a higher level of local skills and expertise.
- 1978 – USA disinvested in SA, due to political pressures. Signed agreement with Continental AG in Germany (then West Germany), effectively giving General Tyre SA access to the latest European tyre technology, especially with the development of steel belted radials.
- 1968 – Introduction of the R 280 passenger textile belted radial tyre.
- 1960 – Introduction of radial passenger tyres, the most modern fabric processing unit in the country.
- 1956 – The introduction of Tractor and Grader tyres.
- 1948 – Manufacturing facility was commissioned and officially opened by the mayor of Port Elizabeth on 20 April 1948
- 1947 – General Tyre South Africa was established by the Williams Hunt Group and General Tyre USA