By David Shaw, ERJ editor
Athens--Continental AG has quietly changed its approach to the Russian market. Following the debacle with Moscow Tyre, Conti is no longer seeking a manufacturing base in the country, but instead is focussing on building up its retail and wholesale operations, while waiting for import tariffs to drop as Russia moves toward World Trade Organisation membership.
Conti has also set up a new company to oversee its operations in Russia. Continental Tyres Russ, headed by Jaron Wiedmaier. Wiedmaier told ERJ exclusively, "We have a different strategy. We will import tyres to Russia from Romania, Otrokovice and elsewhere." He said the company has already signed up a series of dealers, aiming for the premium and middle market.
Conti has sold the machinery it transferred from the former Gislaved plant to Moscow, to the Moscow Tyre company and is dissolving the joint venture agreement it had with the Moscow-based company.