HANOVER, Germany—Continental A.G. has expanded its capabilities in Brazil to include the production of air spring systems to support local original equipment and aftermarket business in the commercial vehicle sector. The move will allow it to strengthen its presence in Brazil by producing air spring systems for bus, truck and trailer applications at a single location.
"The need for comfort and safety in modern buses, trucks and trailers is increasing noticeably in the Brazilian market—especially in the original equipment business. This trend will have a corresponding spill-over effect on the spare parts business," Alexander Papadimitriou, head of Continental's aftermarket business for commercial vehicles in the air spring systems segment, said in a statement.
While metal leaf springs have been a popular alternative in the Brazilian market, Papadimitriou said demand is shifting in the direction of air springs made of rubber and plastic because they are durable, lightweight and reduce emissions.
"Local demand goes well beyond comfort and convenience," Papadimitriou said.
Continental will be nearby and ready with a portfolio of products to meet market needs, he added.
"In the aftermarket, in particular, we have to be able to meet demand very quickly and at short notice, and the new production capacities will ensure this," Papadimitriou said.
The company's air springs business for trucks, buses and railway is part of the ContiTech division along with non-tire rubber products such as automotive hoses and interior trim, conveyor belts, elastomer coatings, industrial hoses, timing belts and vibration absorbers.
ContiTech generated sales of $6.3 billion in 2018, up from $6.2 billion in 2017 and $5.4 billion in 2016. The division has 112 sites for production and research and development in 30 countries. The Brazil facilities, which are in Americana, Macae, Ponta Grossa and Santana de Parnaiba, also produce commercial vehicle tires, manual and digital tachographs, and tachometer displays for light and heavy commercial vehicles in the South American market.
Proximity to customers is important, according to Julio Lopes, on-site project manager of the air spring systems facility.
"Our customers in the region expect high-quality products that are manufactured locally," Lopes said.
In addition to ContiTech, which specializes in rubber and plastics technologies, Continental A.G. has divisions for tires, powertrain, interior, chassis and safety. Founded in 1871, the company posted sales of around $48.6 billion in 2018 with 240,000 employees in 60 countries. Sales were up in 2018 from about $44 billion in 2017, which was slightly less than 2016 sales of $44.3 billion.