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Conti to boost U.S. truck tire output

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MOUNT VERNON, Ill.—Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C. plans to boost capacity for truck tires, including wide-base singles, at its Mount Vernon plant by mid-2015 as part of a $129 million investment at the sprawling car and truck tire manufacturing complex in southern Illinois.

The project will raise annual capacity to about 3.2 million units and create more than 100 jobs, Conti said. The expanded capacity is only marginally higher than what the company projected the plant would be at by year-end 2012 in its May 2011 investment announcement, but it includes the addition of the wide-base manufacturing.

This expansion, which gives Conti its first mass-scale North American capacity for wide-base truck tires, raises to $615 million the amount Conti has committed to Mount Vernon since 2006.

Among the reasons Conti cited for making the investment are rising demand for Continental- and General-brand truck tires, the need to manage complexity better and “emerging technologies” in tire production.

Expanding truck tire capacity enhances Conti's “capabilities for advanced technologies and (increases) our ability to anticipate the market demands of the future,” said Paul Williams, executive vice president, truck tires-the Americas. “This investment is further commitment to Continental's strategy for growth in the Americas.”

The expansion will cover installing a new rubber mixer to support the additional tire production and new equipment for emerging tire technologies, including wide-base truck tires, Conti said, without elaborating on what “emerging technologies” means.

The investment includes $34 million to cover technology and equipment for rubber mixing and a warehouse expansion.

“Our research and development engineers for the Americas, working at our Truck Tire Technology Center in Mount Vernon, have developed tires and technologies for a complete lifecycle solution that begins with excellence in new tire production,” Mr. Williams said. “In turn, our customers have responded with increased demand for our tires.”

Conti produces a limited number of wide-base truck tires at Mount Vernon, according Plant Manager Benny Harmse, but the firm sources its more popular HDL2 Eco Plus drive and HTL1 trailer super singles from the Conti plant in Puchov, Slovak Republic.

The truck tire investment will create more than 80 new full-time positions, while the mixing and warehouse expansions will require more than 30 new jobs, the latter of which should be on board during 2014. Employment at the plant is roughly 3,000, including 350 or so hired in relation to the 2011 expansion project.

“Our employees and the Mount Vernon community make our continued success possible,” Mr. Harmse said, “and we hope these investments demonstrate our appreciation and dedication to them.”

Conti is just now putting the finishing touches on a $224 million investment/expansion at Mount Vernon announced in May 2011.

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