The funds will be used to add capacity at the company’s plant in Lousado, Portugal, where it already produces passenger car products, for the production of radial agricultural tires. Production is scheduled to start in 2017 and as part of the process around 125 new jobs will be created.
Meanwhile the tire maker also has plans to establish a new R&D center in Lousado at a cost of €2.5m (US$2.8m). Here, it will develop agricultural tires in close cooperation with Conti’s main R&D facility in Hannover, Germany. Five recently recruited engineers will be based there and there are plans to increase the workforce up to 10.
The investments will enable Continental to offer the market a complete tire portfolio for agricultural tractors and harvesting machines. This range will include radial and cross-ply tires in 150 sizes.Thorsten Bublitz, business line manager at Continental responsible for the agricultural tire business, said, “Professional agriculture has undergone rapid change over the past few years. 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.”
The introduction of agricultural radial tires under the brand name Continental in 2017 will mark the end of the trademark license agreement between Continental and its licensee Mitas, which closed in 2004. 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 tire portfolio under its brand name.