Continental is investing €49.9 million in its agricultural tires business. In doing so, over the coming years, the worldwide premium tire manufacturer and technology company will build production capacities at its tire plant in Lousado, Portugal. In the course of this ramp-up, 125 new jobs will be created for the production of the Continental branded premium agricultural tires. The company also paved the ground for further investments in the production of agricultural tires in the upcoming future, depending on a positive market and Continental sales development, respectively.
“With this investment, we give a clear sign that Continental is once again active as a premium manufacturer in the agricultural tire sector with our premium Continental brand. In Lousado, we have an excellent location and a highly motivated and experienced team, which manufactures cutting-edge radial tires in a state-of-the-art production facility for the demanding agricultural sector,” said Nikolai Setzer, member of the Executive Board at Continental and head of the Tire division, marking the signing of the investment agreement in Lousado, Portugal.
“Professional agriculture has undergone rapid change over the past few years,” explained Thorsten Bublitz, business line manager at Continental responsible for the agricultural tire business. “In view of the growing world population and the increasing need for agricultural crops, the number of large-scale operations and therefore the demand for efficient agricultural tires is increasing. This is where we have many years of experience as a premium manufacturer,” said Bublitz. Continental intends to bring a complete tire portfolio for agricultural tractors and harvesting machines to the market, working together with the major vehicle manufacturers in the process. The range will include radial and cross-ply tires in 150 sizes.
The introduction of agricultural radial tires under the brand name Continental in 2017 is marking the end of the trademark license agreement between Continental and its licensee Mitas closed in 2004. After the recent decision of the cartel authorities regarding the acquisition of Mitas, Continental is getting back the brand rights earlier than 2019 as contractually agreed and thus can introduce its agricultural tire portfolio under its premium brand.
The start of production for the Continental branded radial agricultural tires in Lousado is planned for 2017. Continental is already producing cross-ply tires for the agricultural sector in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.
Besides the investment in the manufacturing plant in Lousado, Continental is additionally investing €2.5 million in a new Research & Development Center in Lousado with the goal to attain a faster product portfolio growth of the agricultural tires. This center will do research in close cooperation with the Central Research & Development department in Hanover, Germany, and at the start will employ five recently recruited engineers. It is foreseen to increase the workforce up to ten highly qualified employees.
Continental also supplies components and systems for agricultural machines and agricultural infrastructure. The range of products extends from comprehensive instrumentation and camera solutions, to sensors, rubber tracks and conveyor belt technology, and exhaust gas treatment. In supplying this combination of components from a single source, Continental is in the position to offer agricultural companies comprehensive solutions for greater efficiency, environmental friendliness, and conservation of resources.
The investment in the radial agricultural tire sector in Lousado is part of Vision 2025, which was launched in 2011 and is used by the Tire division for the strategic planning and systematic implementation of technological progress. Other examples include investments in the AIBA (Automated Indoor Braking Analyzer) in 2012, the ContiLifeCycle Plant for retreading truck tires and rubber recycling in Hanover-Stöcken in 2013, and the High Performance Technology Center in Korbach in 2014.