By Liz White, ERJ staff
Otrokovice, Czech Republic-Continental AG says the EU's eastward growth has produced positive benefits. Elimination of border controls â€œhas noticeably reduced transport times,â€ and paperwork and costs have been cut, the group said. Purchasing is also benefiting from improved material procurement from all of Eastern Europe.
These improvements have reinforced Conti's belief that its decision 12 years ago to set up operations in the Czech Republic â€œhas long since proved to have been a smart move. The EU's eastward expansion makes the location even more attractive,â€ said Manfred Wennemer, Continental's chairman, in a speech during Czech president Vaclav Klaus' visit to the Conti tyre plant in Otrokovice.
All Conti's divisions are present in the Czech Republic, where it has invested more than Euro 300 million in the last five years:
â€¢ The Barum Continental tyre plant in Otrokovice will make 18.5 million passenger tyres in 2005. â€œBarum Continental exports more than eighty percent of what it produces and is the biggest European manufacturer of passenger tyres,â€ said Pavel Pravec, plant manager in Otrokovice. As Otrokovice's major employer, the plant employs around 4300.
â€¢ The Automotive Systems division assembles brake assist units and tandem master cylinders at a plant in Jicin in the Czech Republic.
â€¢ ContiTech recently added the Phoenix plant, Vest-Izol AS, in Zakupy, employs 355 making cotton fabric fleece, thermoformed parts and pressed parts in a 15 000-sq.m plant.
Factors making the country a good place to manufacture include motivated, highly qualified technical staff, much lower costs than in Germany and good transport and logistics, said Conti, in a statement. â€œWe shall continue to invest here on into the future,â€ said Hans-Joachim Nikolin, head of the commercial vehicle tyre division.
The picture shows Hans-Joachim Nikolin (left), head of Conti's commercial vehicle tyre division, with Czech president Vaclav Klaus (right), during his visit to the Conti tyre plant in Otrokovice.