Wolfgang Schäfer’s tenure as chief financial officer of German automotive technology company and tyre maker Continental ended abruptly on Wednesday amidst ongoing investigations into the supply of illegal defeat devices for diesel engines, but he’s not the only former Continental manager in the prosecutor’s sights. A representative from the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Hannover announced yesterday that they’re also investigating former chief executive officer Elmar Degenhart and a further ex-board member linked to the Powertrain division, as well as two employees below board level.
Although his contract has almost another four years to run, Dr Elmar Degenhart has notified Continental AG of his intention to step down as chief executive officer and as director of the Continental Executive Board. Dr Degenhart’s decision to take leave of the company on 30 November 2020 is based upon “reasons of immediately essential preventive health care,” he informed Continental’s Supervisory Board yesterday. In the near future, Professor Wolfgang Reitzle will convene the Supervisory Board to decide upon the appointment of Degenhart’s successor.
The recent news that Continental AG will close its Aachen, Germany tyre factory underlines the fact that it is aiming to cut 13,000 of 59,000 jobs in Germany as part of a major group-wide cost-cutting programme. Now, the German Manager Magazin is reporting that Continental is also considering the sale of parts of the wider group. Indeed, Continental is said to be in talks “already with prospective customers”. The Rubber Technologies business sector, which includes Continentals Tire and ContiTech division is also said to be affected.
Continental is expanding the restructuring programme it initiated in 2019. The company is adding further measures to cut costs and increase efficiency to its Transformation 2019-2029 programme. The tyre manufacturer wants to achieve gross annual savings of more than 1 billion euros by 2023. This is significantly more than previous targets – in fact more than doubling the initially quoted figure. In total it expects the changes to affect more than 30,000 jobs worldwide. Its workers in Conti’s domestic market in Germany will be the largest part, with 13,000 affected jobs. A further major proportion will be in countries with high labour costs. Conti says these jobs will be modified, relocated, or made redundant. Conti says the programme aims to ensure its viability and strengthen global competitiveness in the long term.
Confronting one’s past can be a taxing experience, all the more so when this past includes one of history’s darkest hours. But this is exactly what tyre maker and automotive systems company Continental is doing in the run-up to its 150th anniversary – it is looking back more than three-quarters of a century to examine the firm’s role within the Nazi system and in Hitler’s war. Continental’s review of its involvement with the National Socialist government in Germany is being supported by the findings of an independent academic study, which was presented this morning.
The entire automotive industry has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and companies are taking steps to ensure their survival. Continental has provided an update on the latest measures being implemented, including reduced working hours and displays of executive solidarity. It has also buried its outlook for 2020.
Continental is postponing its 2020 Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, which was scheduled to take place on 30 April. It reached this decision after the regional government in Lower Saxony, Germany announced a ban on large events in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Postponement was viewed as preferable to relocating the event away from the company’s home town of Hannover.
The future of Continental is taking shape – 15 months after holding a groundbreaking ceremony for its new headquarters site in Hannover, Germany, last week the tyre maker and automotive systems provider held a topping out ceremony for the facility. During the ceremony, Continental chief executive officer Dr Elmar Degenhart reported that the progress remains “right on schedule” and the buildings will be ready to be occupied in time for the company’s 150th anniversary in 2021.
Continental is the latest automotive sector company to report lower year-on-year income in the second quarter of the year. The tyre maker and automotive systems supplier describes its fiscal performance during the period as “an overall solid” result despite a “sharply declining market.” It is nevertheless considering ways of keeping its production costs in check, and will report its progress to this end in the weeks to come.
The foundation stone for Continental’s new headquarters in Hannover, Germany is now in place, and the company says its construction project is on schedule. Chief executive officer Dr Elmar Degenhart and Executive Board members Dr Ariane Reinhart and Wolfgang Schäfer hosted a ceremony to mark the occasion at the construction site last Wednesday.
Driverless cars? Continental had those 50 years ago…It is exactly half a century today since the tyre maker demonstrated its first electronically controlled driverless car at its Contidrom facility in Germany. In those days a car cruising the Contidrom circuit without someone behind the wheel was a novel sight, to say the least, and Continental recalls that more than 400 newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television channels reported on the events of 11 September 1968.
Although company sales and income were up during the first half of 2018, there was little to celebrate within the Tire division at Continental. Division sales volumes, sales and EBIT all decreased year-on-year in the six months to 30 June.
The first sods of earth in the construction of the new Continental headquarters in Hannover, Germany were turned yesterday at an official groundbreaking ceremony. The facility, which carries the snappy title Continental Campus, is expected to be finished by the end of 2020 and provide space for 1,250 employees. The entire headquarters workforce should be housed in the new buildings by 2021, the company’s 150th anniversary.