SUMTER, S.C.—Workers at Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C.'s passenger and light truck tire plant in Sumter have begun turning out preproduction tires at the 1 million sq.-ft. facility, putting the $500 million project slightly ahead of schedule.
The tires are being shipped to Conti's research and development facilities in Germany for testing and evaluation, Conti officials said.
An aerial shot of the plant released by Conti shows the physical structure completely under roof. The company said it expects to be certified by late Oct. to begin occupying the office space.
The tire maker is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony for late January. The plant is projected to have 5 million units of annual capacity in the first phase, and production will increase gradually, starting at about 800,000 units in 2014 and growing to 2 million in 2015.
Conti broke ground on the project in March 2012, when it disclosed long-term plans for the factory to be nearly double in size and capacity as it will be in phase one, along with the possible addition of truck tire capacity.
With 330 acres of land at the site, Conti has sufficient space to accommodate another doubling of capacity to 16 million units and the addition of manufacturing space for truck tires, the firm said at the ground-breaking.
Conti expects to have more than 300 employees at the site by the end of the year, and 500 a year later.