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Continental accelerates localization in China

Continental Hefei plant

Locally manufactured self-supporting run-flat tires will be available for Chinese consumers from the end of 2013, according to the leading global tire manufacturer Continental Tires.
The tires are manufactured by the Continental Hefei plant, located in Anhui province, with atotal investment of 319 million euros ($433 million), Jay Dhillon, general manager of theShanghai-based branch of Continental Tires Trading Co Ltd, said on Wednesday.
The plant is the company's fourth to produce SSR tires independently for the world market. Theother three are in Aachen, Germany, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and in Mount Vernon, Illinois,in the United States.
"The Hefei plant boasts a specialized production line for (run-flat) tires and customizeddesigning capability — the most advanced technology ever in tire manufacturing," said MichaelEgner, general manager of the Hefei branch.
"Chinese consumers now require more comprehensive knowledge about tires -- especially insafety and comfort rather than durability," Dhillon said, adding that years of experience in thelocal market have showed that Chinese consumers' standard for tires has changed.
As the innovator of the run-flat tire in the 1980s, Continental has been committed to improvingconsumer safety and experience.
Continental is a partner of world-renowned automakers, including BMW and Mercedes-Benz. InEurope alone, Continental occupies one-third of the Original Equipment Market.
"Localization offers Chinese consumers a wider choice when they choose our products," saidWei Wang, marketing manager of the Shanghai branch, estimating that locally made tires willhave a lower price than imported ones.
"The first batch of locally manufactured (run-flat) tires is aiming for economic and mid-endvehicles. Over the next several months, more patterns will be launched to cover high-endvehicles," Dhillon revealed.
He estimated the annual output of run-flat tires in 2014 will reach 340,000 and 510,000 in2015.
"Since its establishment in 2011, the Hefei plant has been dedicated to providing qualityproducts tailored to local road conditions in China and other Asian markets. This is a way to putinto practice the concept of safety both for our customers and our company," said Egner.
More than 3,800 stores, including 18 of Continental's Best Drive flagship stores, have beenestablished in China.
In 2014, the company's China research center will begin operations in Hefei, according to anagreement made by Continental and the local government.