LOUSADO, Portugal — Continental A.G. is investing $114 million to add capacity for larger diameter radial earthmoving and port materials-handling tires at its 73-year-old tire plant in Lousado.
The investment includes funding to expand an on-site research and development lab that is dedicated to off-road tires, the company said.
The new capacity will be housed in a hall being built adjacent to the expansion, opened in 2017 for radial agricultural tire production, Conti said. It did not disclose the hall's size or the new product lines' capacity. Production could start before year-end, Conti said.
The production hall will be equipped with state-of-the-art tire building machinery and automated devices, designed to deliver "cutting-edge" radial tires. The facility is designed to produce three earthmoving tire lines and three port tire lines with rim diameters larger than 24 inches.
The new production is expected to add 100 jobs to the plant's existing workforce of 2,000, Conti said.
"Thanks to the investments and additional capacity created, we are continuing to pursue the growth strategy of the tire division," Christian Kötz, head of Conti's Tire Division, said.
"Both the port and earthmoving segments are among the key growth areas in the commercial specialty tire market. The new production lines clearly reflect our commitment to these segments and the overall OTR business."
Conti added capacity for radial agricultural tires in 2016-17 at its Continental Mabor Industria de Pneus S.A. plant in Lousado, in line with its strategy to get back into a tire sector it had exited in 2004.
"This investment strengthens our footprint in Lousado and transforms the top-efficiency plant into a competence center for big radial tires for off-road use," Mr. Kötz added.
The port-handling tires are new to Conti's portfolio, while the OTR tire lines are being produced now under contract by a third-party European company, Conti said.
In addition to the OTR tire lines, Lousado makes passenger tires with annual production of about 18 million units.
Conti has been involved in the Lousado plant since 1989, when it created a 60-40 joint venture with local manufacturer Mabor Industria. It bought full control of the venture in 1993.