Continental breaks ground on Mississippi plant
Continental transport has broken ground at the site of its new Mississippi tire plant, kicking off a $1.4 billion long-term investment. The new manufacturing facility, at a greenfield site in Hinds County is just two miles from Clinton and 20 miles from Jackson.
The 1,000-acre site is earmarked for gradual expansion, with physical construction due to start in 2018 and the production of commercial vehicle tires planned to start by the end of 2019. Continental says the plant will provide 2,500 jobs when it reaches full capacity in the next decade and is a significant step in growing its commercial vehicle tire business in North America.
Growth in the commercial tire sector
“Building this new facility in Mississippi is a critical part to our growth strategy for Continental Tire, known as Vision 2025,” said Nikolai Setzer, member of Continental’s Executive Board and head of Continental’s global tire business worldwide. “This is the first new plant, globally, for the truck tire business in more than ten years. We are convinced that the state of Mississippi provides the best options for Continental to grow our tire business.”
Continental said its business growth in commercial vehicle tires had “consistently exceeded the market over the last five years” and the company continued to see demand for its new bus and truck tires, and retreads grow beyond its capacity.
Aside from the Mississippi plant, Continental has invested nearly $2.5 billion in the past decade in manufacturing, technology, facilities and product development to grow its tire business in the Americas. This includes the expansion of its tire plant in Mt. Vernon, Illinois and new facility in Sumter, South Carolina. Continental Commercial Vehicle Tires is one of the largest manufacturers of truck, bus and commercial specialty tires worldwide.
Good news for the industry
There’s good news for the tire industry in general, with the Rubber Manufacturers’ Association predicting “slow but steady” growth overall in the coming year. Although original equipment truck tire shipments are expected to decrease slightly, replacement truck tire shipments are projected to rise. However the light truck tire segment, is expecting solid growth in both OE and replacement tire shipments.
The RMA has predicted that steady increases in vehicle miles traveled, low fuel costs, improvements in consumer confidence and more robust U.S. economic growth should result in larger tire shipments, on the back of a strong performance in 2015, which showed light truck tires rose to 26.4 million units and medium truck tires to 14.8 million units.