FRANKFURT, Germany—Continental is continuing to expand its tire business into new regions, according to Christian Koetz, head of the Tire Division and Corporate Purchasing.
As part of the Vision 2025, the German Tier 1 has been building its global footprint. This has included opening a series of greenfield production facilities. The latest of these, in Mississippi, is due to start production of truck tires later this year.
"The tire business is a volume business," Koetz said at the IAA 2019 Frankfurt motor show. "We have to expand to compete with the major global players."
Continental supplies about 33 percent of the tires used by original equipment manufacturers in Europe. While the company has been expanding, new vehicle sales in the home region have been falling, which Koetz said has been a cause for concern.
"When the new car market slows down, usually we'll see aftermarket sales start to increase as people keep their cars for longer, but those aftermarket sales (in Europe) are also fractionally down," he said.
Such a slow down in aftermarket sales could be interpreted as drivers driving less miles in response to environmental concerns. But Koetz said that while this will likely happen, he doesn't believe this is the case now.
As for production, Koetz said that raw material prices have caused a "headwind" for the company, but new efficient manufacturing technologies have helped to off-set those unfavorable costs.
He also noted that the tire division is investigating ways to be more sustainable, including reusing reclaimed material from recycled tires. The company has a reclamation plant in Slovakia which specifically is designed to remove the steel belting from tires so it can be used in new product.
In addition, the company is investigating ways to recover more compound from old tires for reuse.