Hanover, Germany – Continental is investing €49.9 million in its agricultural tires business: increasing capacity at its tire plant in Lousado, Portugal, and preparing the way for further expansion in this market with own-brand products.
The project in Portugal will create 125 jobs and signals Conti’s renewed enthusiasm in the agricultural tire sector, according to a 30 June announcement from the Hanover-based group.
The Lousado plant manufactures 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 its Tyre division.
"Professional agriculture has undergone rapid change over the past few years," added 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," Bublitz added.
Conti said it intends to bring a complete tire portfolio for agricultural tractors and harvesting machines to the market, working with the major vehicle makers in the process. The range will include radial and cross-ply tires in 150 sizes.
The plans revolve around a strategic programme to introduce agricultural radial tires under the Continental brand in 2017: marking the end of the trademark license agreement with licensee Mitas.
“Due the recent decision of the cartel authorities regarding the acquisition of Mitas, Continental is reclaiming its brand rights earlier than 2019 as contractually agreed, and can therefore introduce its agricultural tyre portfolio under its premium brand,” the German group explained.
Production of Continental branded radial agricultural tires in Lousado is planned for start-up in 2017 - Conti 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, Conti is investing €2.5 million in a new R&D Center in Lousado. This centre will operate cooperation with the company’s central R&D department in Hanover.