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January 29, 2014

Producing tires: Continental plant in Sumter

Continental says 30,000 tons of steel went into the Sumter, S.C., plant's structure. Production began last October.
Continental says 30,000 tons of steel went into the Sumter, S.C., plant s structure. Production

Continental Tire the Americas LLC's newest consumer tire plant is open for business. To commemorate the occasion, company officials held a grand opening celebration at the facility in Sumter, S.C., on Jan. 28, 2014.

The ceremony marked the completion of the construction process, although the plant will not be at full capacity until the end of 2021. At present, the plant can produce 500 passenger and light truck tires per day; when the first phase is completed by the end of 2017, it will be able to produce 12,600 tires a day.

When full capacity is reached, the plant will be able to produce nearly 22,000 tires a day.

The total cost to Continental will surpass $500 million. To date, more than $100 million has been awarded to South Carolina vendors in the construction of the plant.

The tires produced at the Sumter plant will help meet the increasing demand for Continental and General brand tires from both aftermarket business and automotive manufacturers.

“Today’s celebration is recognition of the successful collaboration between business and government,” said Jochen Etzel, CEO of Continental Tire the Americas. “I would like to personally thank Governor (Nikki) Haley, the state of South Carolina, the Ports Authority, Sumter County and the city of Sumter. Their strong support made this project a reality.” 

According to Haley, Continental’s success in South Carolina is no accident.

"It’s what happens when you combine a great product with a strong business environment and skilled workforce. This is another example proving that 'Team South Carolina' can deliver products of the highest standards and meet the demands of companies around the world.”

Nikolai Setzer, a member of Continental AG’s executive board and head of Continental’s global tire business, said the facility contains the highest level of machinery and technology to produce the best car and light truck tires possible. "And, most importantly, we began to produce tires three months ahead of schedule (in October 2013)."

To date, approximately 390 employees have been hired in Sumter. It is expected that the plant will increase that to 570 by the end of 2014. Total employment is expected to reach 1,600 people. (Continental has partnered with readySC, a division of the SC Technical College System, to assist with staffing and training interested candidates.)

With the Sumter investment, Continental Tire the Americas will have invested more than $1.85 billion in manufacturing, technology, facilities and product development in the United States, Mexico, Ecuador and Brazil since 2005.

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