RAYONG, Thailand—Continental A.G. has broken ground on the $265 million tire plant it's building in Rayong, keeping the project on schedule for a 2019 production start-up.
Continental executives participated March 22 in a "first piling ceremony" at the factory site, which was organized according to local culture and included a blessing by Buddhist monks.
"The first piling ceremony represents the initial milestone in the start of civil works at the site,…" said Michael Egner, project leader, who noted the plans for the tire plant call for the sinking of more than 2,500 concrete piles into the ground at depths up to 45 feet that will serve as anchors for the building.
Once the piling is completed, work can start on the building foundations, according to Matthias Weiland, technical project manager of the Rayong plant.
Egner went on to thank the local Buddhist community for its support as well as the work by the management of the Hemaraj industrial park, local suppliers and the Conti engineering team to allow work on the plant to begin on schedule.
The plant—Conti's sixth in the Asia/Pacific region and 22nd worldwide—is scheduled to open in 2019 with an initial annual capacity of 4 million passenger and light truck tires and up to 900 employees.
The factory site is located just 35 miles from the deep-sea port of Laem Chabang, Thailand. It covers 185 acres, which provides sufficient space for a potential expansion to up to 25 million tires per year, Conti said.