Components and technology major Continental is betting big on Mexico, which is one of the key production sites for the automotive industry and supply sector worldwide. The country's ideal underlying operating conditions, such as the proximity to the North American market and the availability of skilled labor make the country very attractive for the relevant players.
For Continental's global strategy, Mexico is an important market. In the past five years the company has invested a middle three-digit million Euro sum in its Mexican plants. For the coming five years it plans to invest on a comparable level. Continental develops and manufactures automotive components and tyres here plus industrial products, both for the Mexican market and for export to numerous countries.
The company, which has been in Mexico for over 40 year, currently operates 19 plants, a finance center, a sales office and two R&D centers in the country. The extensive portfolio of products from Mexico ranges from high-quality surface materials for vehicle interiors, brake systems and turbochargers to instrumentation and passive safety solutions right through to control units and chassis control systems for cars, trucks and specialist vehicles.
Last year, Continental officially opened another manufacturing facility in San Luis Potosí, in which charge-air lines are manufactured for the automotive industry. In addition, extensions to the plants in Guadalajara, Cuautla and Juarez City were completed. Continental manufactures a range of products there, including driver information systems, sensors, control units, electronic modules such as chips and small electric motors for the passenger car and commercial vehicle industries.
A new R&D center is also to be commissioned in Querétaro this year. It will focus primarily on electronic systems relating to solutions for autonomous driving in the future. It already has 160 engineers working there. That number is planned to rise to more than 1,000 in four years.
“Our R&D centers in Mexico transform ideas into solutions for the industry,” said Jorge Vazques Murillo, who is in charge of R&D. They currently support 12 business units. The first center started work in 2000 with three engineers. More than 1,700 people are now employed in the two established centers.
Continental, which employs over 24,000 people in Mexico, develops components such as fuel injection control units, infotainment and connectivity solutions, airbags and systems for access control and vehicle safety and security. The track record to date: 23 patents, 126 patent applications and 837 invention disclosures. Smart lighting systems and assisted parking systems for vehicles with trailers are just two examples of innovations developed at Continental in Mexico.