Continental invests $1.4b in new Mississippi plant
The world’s fourth-largest tire manufacturer, Continental, has announced it will build a $1.4 billion plant in Mississippi to drive the growth of its tire business in North America.
The new manufacturing facility, near the city of Clinton in Hinds County, Mississippi, will produce commercial vehicle tires, with production to start in 2019. It will employ 2,500 people when the plant reaches full capacity in the next decade.
Why is Continental building in Mississippi?
Continental bosses have called the Mississippi facility part of the company’s “global growth strategy” citing the state’s large skilled workforce and infrastructure as factors in the decision to locate there.
“The State of Mississippi has developed an outstanding business climate and this site met all of our needs for projected growth in the near, as well as in the longer, term,” Paul Williams, executive vice president, Continental Commercial Vehicle Tires, the Americas, said.
It hasn’t hurt, of course, that on Feb. 4, the Mississippi Legislature voted on an incentive package in support of the project, approving $263 million through the Mississippi Major Economic Impact Authority for site acquisition and site preparation, infrastructure improvements and workforce training.
Commercial tire industry enjoying impressive growth
Continental’s tire business growth in the Americas has consistently exceeded the market over the last five years.
“We continue to see customer demand for our commercial vehicle tire products,” said Dr. Andreas Esser, executive vice president and head of the business unit Commercial Vehicle Tires. “This holds for new truck and bus tires as well as for retreads, which are growing beyond our existing capacity in the Americas.”
Paul Williams, executive vice president of Continental Commercial Vehicle Tires, the Americas, said Continental had worked hard over the past several years to add value to its commercial fleet customers by expanding the company’s service offerings in order to lower the overall operating costs. “As a result, we continue to enjoy solid growth in our business and a demand for more commercial vehicle tires,” he said.
Competitors also building commercial tire capacity
Continental is not the only business ramping up its commercial truck and bus tire offerings; in January Cooper Tire announced it had bought a 65 percent stake in Chinese-based Qingdao Ge Rui Da Rubber Company Limited. Once at full capacity, Cooper estimates its truck and bus radial tire plant will be capable of producing 2.5 million to three million truck and bus tires a year.
Meanwhile, after decades of supplying car, minivan, SUV and pickup tires, Uniroyal has recently branched out into the commercial truck field, launching a line of six new tires for U.S. market. Like Continental, both companies cited significant market growth in the U.S. as prompting the decisions.
Construction of Continental’s multi-million-square-foot facility on Norrell Road, off I-20 West in Hinds County is slated to begin in January 2018.