Continental Automotive continues construction on a new, state-of-the-art $110 million manufacturing facility in New Braunfels, with an anticipated opening planned for fall, officials with the Hanover, Germany-based technology company said.
The 215,000-square-foot plant off I-35 and Kohlenberg Road will manufacture products for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems — the foundation of assisted and automated driving.
Continental develops key components for assisted and automated driving all over the world. The new location positions the company to expand its research and development and manufacturing capabilities in the United States as demand for intelligent safety functions increases.
“Construction is coming along, despite some challenges with COVID and subcontractors and finding people,” Project Manager Ryan French said. “We are in the process of getting close to where we’re going to start ramping up production. Later this year, we’ll start production, and we’re starting to hire.”
Continental began researching sensors, software and intelligent connectivity more than 20 years ago.
The New Braunfels facility will serve as an extension of that work as the company increases investments in assisted and automated driving.
When the plant opens, local workers will produce radar sensors, which are essential for many sophisticated safety functions such as blind-spot detection and forward-collision warning.
“In the future, we’ll add other devices in the same family,” French said. “To start with, we’ll stick with radar. Units are built from PCBs — green circuit boards. We populate those circuit boards on one half of the process, and on the other half, we package them into something that will be fitted into a vehicle. We also do a lot of testing to make sure it’s going to perform as it should in the field.”
The New Braunfels facility will serve as the company’s second automotive manufacturing location in the state.
French said the team is up to about 50 right now, and it’s time for the company to bring in people to run the lines and to do the first qualification builds, which will take place this month.
“We’ll have the start-up of production later this year — that’s still the original plan and on track,” French said. “We’ll see a big ramp-up in 2023 as we’re bringing in more equipment from the Seguin facility to this one.
“Continental sees automation as the future, and safer driving is one of our most important goals. The products that we build bring safety to everybody driving, but also the building blocks for automated driving in the future. You have to have these systems to build up the automated systems that you have, but in the meantime, they are already out there and saving lives.”
With the new location, Continental will offer 580 well-paying jobs with excellent benefits over the next four years in New Braunfels. The company plans to hire 100 people this summer in preparation for the facility’s fall opening.
Continental has invested about $3.5 billion in manufacturing, technology, facilities and product development in the United States since 2011. In addition, it employs a domestic workforce of more than 19,000 people.
“It’s a growing business in the automotive world itself,” Plant Manager Juergen Martin said of automation technology. “Of course, Continental is one of the leaders in this aspect. We want to invest in people who want to be part of one of the leaders. We have technicians. We have engineers. We have skilled and unskilled people, but we provide opportunities for everyone to grow with the company and also develop skills for a personal career path. I think this is a great opportunity for people.”
Comal County commissioners and New Braunfels City Council members separately agreed in 2019 to incentivize Continental’s multi-million investment in the community. The agreement provides a multi-year refund of property taxes paid on the improvements and business’ personal property in exchange for the company fulfilling certain employment and wage levels.
If the company meets all the benchmarks, it could total up to $3.3 million in land acquisition grants, up to $1.8 million for infrastructure improvements and up to $270,000 in roadway impact fees to improve Kohlenberg Road.
Continental will receive a 15% city property tax rebate over 10 years if it reaches and maintains the set number of full-time positions, and the county approved a 47% property tax rebate based on the same terms over the next decade.
For information on Continental careers, visit www.continental.com/careersus.