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Continental expands turbocharger business, launches production in the Czech Republic

There are only a few automotive components for which demand is growing as strongly as for turbochargers for gasoline engines. The reason for this is that they are a key prerequisite for successful downsizing – reducing cubic capacity and fuel consumption while ensuring the same or even increased performance. International automotive supplier Continental did not get started in this booming business field until 2011, but has celebrated an impressive debut. The 1-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine from Ford, for which Continental developed the turbocharger, has been selected as "International Engine of the Year" for three consecutive years since 2012. Previously, this turbocharger was produced at the Lahr plant of cooperation partner Schaeffler. Now, Continental has expanded its capacities and started the turbocharger production at its Czech location in Trutnov, where the success story of the Ford turbocharger is now being continued. Systems for other customers are being produced in Lahr, among them the world's first turbocharger with an aluminum turbine housing.

"Gasoline engines with a turbocharger represent a clear growth market in which we have secured ourselves a strong position within a very short time, thanks to innovative products," says Wolfgang Breuer, head of the Engine Systems Business Unit in the Powertrain Division. "In the coming years, we are expecting this market segment to grow by double-digit percentage figures worldwide. This market thus presents us with outstanding opportunities to expand our business – particularly in Asia, but also in North America and Europe. After the production launch in Trutnov, we are planning to expand our production in China and North America as well.”

Trutnov, a 32,000-inhabitant town near the Giant Mountains, is home to a Powertrain Division site, where the Engine Systems and Sensors & Actuators Business Units are represented. The complex covers an area of almost 25,000m², of which 14,500m² is devoted solely to production. The workforce of some 780 employees produces components for exhaust gas recirculation, high-pressure pumps, high-pressure sensors, and intelligent actuators. The location's high level of mechanical expertise was a decisive factor in the decision to base the new production facility there. "Turbochargers are very demanding mechanical components, and Trutnov offers the ideal essential prerequisites for manufacturing them. The successful and smooth start of production is the best proof of this," says Udo Schwerdel, head of the turbocharger product line in the Engine Systems Business Unit.

 

 The new production line is pure high tech. While conventional turbochargers sometimes need to be put together manually in multiple steps, the main components of the Continental turbocharger can be assembled fully automatically along a single axis. "The design of this turbocharger is based on comprehensive FMEA studies on analyzing sources of faults and we have systematically implemented the results of these studies. Thanks to fully automatic production and intelligent safeguarding methods, our turbochargers set new standards in quality and endurance. In addition, this production concept cuts costs significantly," explains Schwerdel. The capacity of turbocharger production in Trutnov will grow continuously in the years to come. "We are planning midterm to achieve an annual capacity of 2 million units," says Schwerdel.

Continental has a total of seven locations in the Czech Republic, six of which belong to the Automotive Group. In addition to Trutnov and nearby Adrspach, these locations also include Frenstat and Ostrava in the east of the country, Brandys near Prague, and Jicin, located about halfway between Prague and Trutnov. Continental's Tire Division also has a production location in Otrokovice in the southeast part of the country. In total, the corporation has more than 13,000 employees in the Czech Republic.

1 October 2014


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