Continental has started the construction work on a plant to manufacture premium surface materials for the automotive industry in Pune, India. The 12,000 square meters manufacturing facility with an initial annual capacity of five million square meters is to be built on the four-hectare plot at a cost of about 22 million euros (18 billion rupees). The factory is scheduled to begin production in 2020 with a workforce of up to 110 people initially.
“India is now rated as the fifth-largest automotive market in the world with huge growth opportunities,” says Dr Dirk Leiß, who is responsible for the business unit for surface materials at Continental. “And every vehicle needs interior materials for seats, door trims and instrument panels. This investment will enable us in the future to offer our Indian customers local solutions that are manufactured in the market for the market.” It is estimated that the number of vehicles in India could more than double from the current 4.8 million to around ten million by 2025.
The Acella Eco artificial leather that will be produced in Pune from 2020 is already proving popular in India as a replacement for real leather. The solvent-free and thus low-odour decorative material is hard-wearing and is available in a two-colour design.
Continental has already been represented by a sales team in India for six years. It now supplies the country’s five largest vehicle manufacturers and one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers from other plants. “The new plant in Pune will enable us to further improve both our reaction times and responsiveness and lastingly grow our business in India,” says Leiß with conviction. In addition to Acella Eco, the plan is also to manufacture the environmentally compatible Yorn and Yorn Light expanded foils.
An environment-friendly biogas system will supply energy to the plant. Air treatment will be carried out in accordance with a stringent global standard for surface production specified by Continental. The plant, which will offer room for further expansion, will include production, warehousing, R&D labs, sales, logistics and product development facilities – and local purchasing. Only environment-friendly ink systems will be used on the shop floor.
Continental produces surface materials in 15 plants around the world and is therefore represented in the key markets in Asia, the Americas and Europe.
“We chose Pune as a location because of its closeness to current customers,” explains site manager Landry Tchapda.
In India, Continental currently has eight plants and 8,000 employees at 15 sites and is planning to increase the workforce size in the country to 10,000 in the next two years.