Synthetic timing belts have been criticized for their lack of durability. Most automakers fit metal timing chains on their vehicles. The timing chain connects the crankshaft to the camshaft or camshafts.
But ContiTech says new timing-belt technology using innovative materials such as Teflon and Aramid has eliminated durability problems. ContiTech is a unit of Continental, the German supplier and tire company.
The company claims its new synthetic belts will last up to 300,000 km.
ContiTech sees great sales potential in the US, Japan and the growing markets of India and China for the new belts. In the US, almost every car has a metal timing chain.
Japanese and Korean manufacturers are "absolutely" interested in the new belts," said Hermann Schulte, ContiTec's development manager for timing belts. The belts should be an easy sell because of lower maintenance costs. Synthetic belts do not need to be changed as frequently as metal chains, he said.
ContiTech considers its synthetic belts are superior to chains because the firm's oval-wheel drivetrain technology distributes force more smoothly through the belt. The belt is slightly oval, not round, reducing the forces that act on it by as much as 40 percent, the company says.
That makes it possible to handle high-torque 10-cylinder engines that defeat conventional chains.
The new technology is in use at Audi and in the VW Golf GTI 2.0 FSi.
ContiTech worked with Litens Automotive Group, a Canadian supplier, to develop the drivetrain technology.
Schulte says the ContiTech belt is ahead of chains in other technical areas, such as noise control. They also stretch less than other belts over 150,000 km of driving.