During its meeting yesterday, the Continental AG Supervisory Board agreed upon an “important phase” in the company’s transition from tyre maker to mobility supplier. From 1 January 2022, Continental will elevate its business with systems for advanced driver assistance and automated driving into its own business area within its Automotive Technologies group sector.
Continental’s new tyre making facility in Thailand is officially up and running. A ceremony was held yesterday to mark the occasion, with around 500 people present to mark inauguration of the 250-million-euro greenfield factory in Rayong. Production will now be ramped up to provide a capacity to manufacture some four million passenger car and light commercial vehicle tyres by 2022. These tyres will be sold locally and throughout the entire APAC region.
At a meeting on 14 March, the Supervisory Board of German tyre and automotive systems maker Continental approved the next stage of one of the largest organisational changes in its history. Several new appointments at Executive Board level were announced, including the transfer of Nikolai Setzer to the company’s Automotive Group.
Several Tire Industry Project members have published sustainable natural rubber procurement policies of late. Yokohama and Hankook published theirs this month, and so did Continental. The company says its Sustainable Natural Rubber Sourcing Policy will guide the Rubber Group in detecting risks to workers, communities, forests, biodiversity and agricultural land, such as deforestation, corruption and land grabbing, in the early stages.
The UK government identifies tyres as potentially responsible for up to ten per cent of the microplastics in the world’s oceans, and some research conducted abroad suggests this proportion could be much higher. A study from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) indicates that 28.3 per cent of all primary microplastics may come from tyre/road wear (this figure rises to 46.2 per cent when the IUCN includes both natural and synthetic rubber in its scenario), and earlier this year a marine biologist from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research singled out tyres as a “major influence” upon the presence of microplastics in our oceans. Taking such research at face value, it is feasible that the ‘dieselgate’ scandal could be followed at some stage by ‘tyregate’. Yet the tyre industry asserts that tyre/road wear isn’t the environmental and health risk some claim it to be. Continental’s Nikolai Setzer recently discussed this side of the argument.
Continental is set to gain a sizeable retail presence in Australia through its acquisition of acquire Kmart Tyre and Auto Service (KTAS), one of the country’s largest tyre and auto service suppliers. The company says the purchase of KTAS from Wesfarmers Limited for AU$350 million (£199.8 million) will “greatly reinforce” its tyre dealership network in Australia.
A reshuffle of upper management within Continental’s Tire division took effect yesterday. The new line-up sees Christian Kötz leading the division’s Commercial Vehicle Tires business unit and his previous role of head of the Passenger and Light Truck Replacement Tires EMEA taken over by Philipp von Hirschheydt. The latter’s previous position, head of Passenger and Light Truck Replacement Tires APAC, is now the responsibility of Ferdinand Hoyos.
Five years after production commenced, the Continental tyre factory in Kaluga, Russia has celebrated the production of its 10 millionth tyre. Plant output officially went into eight-digit figures on 11 April and the team in Kaluga marked the occasion with invited guests, including government officials, customers and representatives from the Continental Executive Board.
It’s only been four months since the foundation stone for Continental’s new tyre factory in Rayong, Thailand was laid, yet good progress has already been made. On 15 March the first machine was installed within the plant, an occasion celebrated by some 180 guests, Thai officials, as well as Continental management and representatives from the local project team, suppliers and dealers.
A partnership between Continental and the German Corporation for International Cooperation (the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, or GIZ) aims to improve the sustainability of the natural rubber supply chain in Indonesia, the world’s second largest producer of natural rubber. The goals of the collaboration are to develop a criteria catalogue for the sustainable production of natural rubber, to train farmers in sustainable production in accordance with these criteria and to track the rubber from smallholders all the way to production at Continental. By doing so, the partners expect that this optimisation of the supply chain, paired with increases in rubber quality and yield, will generate higher incomes for rubber tree cultivators.
Continental has extended its relationship with German Bundesliga football club Hannover 96 through the signing of a new sponsorship agreement. The new contract covers a five-year period, beginning in the 2018/19 season, and includes television and in-stadium advertising slots. A further aspect of the new contract is Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH’s support of the new Hannover 96 junior academy that opened in summer and serves as a training facility and home ground for the club’s U11 to U23 clubs.
A further milestone in Continental’s return to the agricultural tyre business was reached last week with the official opening of its production site in Lousado, Portugal. To begin with, the plant is manufacturing two ranges – the Tractor70 and Tractor85 – in 13 sizes.
The initial two products in the reborn Continental agricultural tyre portfolio will debut at the Agritechnica show this November. The radial Tractor70 and Tractor85 ranges share the same design; Continental comments that both are “characterised by their robustness and durability” and “ensure a high degree of ride comfort and tractive force.”