The international automotive supplier expects to achieve sales this year totaling nearly 2.0 billion euros in the commercial vehicle original equipment and replacement business. “We are counting on further growth in the coming year,” said Dr Hans-Joachim Nikolin.
In the Commercial Vehicles Tires division, Continental’s capacity exceeded 7.0 million tyres this year. The plant in Puchov, Slovakia, and the Continental Sime Tyre operations in Malaysia have been expanded, and production got started in the new facility in CamaÇari, Brazil.
“We are currently at the limits of our production capacity. We still have to wait and see, however, if the growth in global sales next year turns out as high as forecast by experts. And, in a market where this is considerable pressure on prices, we will not take on any orders that would result in a loss for us,” said Nikolin. “However, we do feel that basically, the positive trend is continuing in the replacement business in Europe and North America. All in all, we have increased global sales in the first seven months of this year by 3 per cent.”
According to Nikolin, the strategy of growing in the international markets is showing the first signs of success. “For instance, we have already boosted our sales in the South American market by 18 per cent this year. The CamaÇari [Brazil] plant, where we will produce about 70,000 commercial vehicle tyres by the end of the year, will undoubtedly help us strengthen our position in this market further. By establishing a sales company in Shanghai, Continental has taken the first step in the Chinese market, as well,” Nikolin said.
Business in the Commercial Vehicle Tire division is being impacted by the situation on the raw material market. “In the first six months, we had to deal with cost increases of 45 million euros,” said Nikolin. “We could offset these increases only in part with market price rises, whereby we did manage to improve our price position compared to the competition somewhat.”
High priority is also given to the subject of safety provided by winter tyres. By expanding its product range for winter and extreme winter driving conditions, Continental is also staying abreast of the changes made to the German road traffic regulations, which specify: "…vehicles must be equipped with adequate gear adjusted to the weather conditions…" For the first time, application-specific reinforced winter tyres are available for the steer axles of local public transit buses.