SHANGHAI (May 10, 2012)— Continental A.G. is investing $240 million in China for a bicycle tire plant located on the grounds of its Hefei car and light truck tire factory.
Conti broke ground on the 64,560-sq.-ft. plant in December and expects production to start before year-end with an initial annual capacity of 1.7 million tires. Annual capacity should ramp up to 4 million quickly and to 16 million eventually, Conti said.
“The start of our bicycle tire production is part of our worldwide expansion strategy,” said Constantin Batsch, head of Conti's Two Wheel Business Unit. “This strategy not only focused on car tires but on all of our product fields worldwide.”
The plant will employ approximately 100 workers initially, but Conti did not say what the employment would be as the factory expands. The workers are part of the 4,000 to 5,000 employees Conti expects to hire this year in China.
The tire maker said the plant will focus initially on tires for mountain biking and cycle racing for the Chinese, Asian and worldwide markets. The investment will support Conti's strategic expansion in Asia-Pacific, including in China, where the company sells its tires through 1,600 “image shops.”
Conti produces bicycle tires at one other factory, in Korbach, Germany, and the firm claims features of its products—like run-flat protection and low rolling resistance—help them achieve high ranks in cycling magazine tests. Conti cycle tires have achieved success in major cycling events like the Olympics, World Championships and the 2011 Tour de France.
The company has produced cycle tires since its founding in 1871.
Conti opened its Hefei car tire plant in May 2011 and just recently broke ground on a $215 million expansion that will double the plant's size to 8 million tires a year by 2015.