German technology manufacturer Continental has laid the cornerstone of a EUR 100 million plant in Debrecen (231 km east of Budapest), which will lead to the creation of 450 new jobs.
The 7,000 sqm Debrecen factory is Continental’s seventh unit in Hungary. The company expects production to start in the third quarter of 2020. Initially, products for the transmission and sensors and actuators business units will be produced in the facility.
The Budapest Business Journal spoke with Lukas Juranek, head of the Debrecen plant, to discover how Continental decided on the location.
“The entire assessment process proceeded in a very uncomplicated and appreciative way,” Juranek says. “Debrecen is the second largest city in Hungary, having an outstanding infrastructure and highly qualified workforce in the region, so it is the ideal location for our next expansion. With this decision, we are continuing to expand the electronics production and European presence in order to better satisfy customers’ demands,” he said.
According to Juranek: “Hungary offers young talents, a highly qualified workforce and a good business environment, which is a competitive set up comparing to other countries.” In return, he says Continental offers “a broad spectrum of career and job opportunities in the production sector from operator, engineer up to management level, which all require a different set of competencies and qualifications. Although educational background and technical knowledge is important, methodical expertise and social competence are gaining increasing relevance.” Continental also plans enhanced training in automotive applications and manufacturing.
The company follows what it calls a “tripartite technology development” for motorway, city, and parking. “In addition to the production readiness of highly automated driving, Continental is also working on fully automated driving on the motorway by 2025. Continental also believes in autonomous driving. With its Continental Urban Mobility Experience test platform, the company tests systems for driverless robot taxis in the city.” In addition to that, the company is also developing an autonomous and automated parking system.
Another development Continental highlights is its integrated cockpit system, which it says was recently crowned “Innovation of the Year 2018”. Continental says the company had impressed the jury of the German Design Council with its “innovative control concept for the vehicles of the future, which comprises multiple displays and touchscreens that are housed under large, curved glass surfaces and stretch across the entire width of the vehicle”.
The company is also expanding its range of solutions for automated driving in commercial vehicles. “To this end, Continental is currently developing an environment model that captures the vehicle environment using various sensors. The data from sensors such as camera, radar and [laser-based] lidar is combined with additional information such as the profile of the route ahead and collected, evaluated and interpreted by an intelligent control unit, the Assisted and Automated Driving Control Unit (ADCU),” Continental says.
The innovations do not stop there, however, as Continental will soon “unveil for the first time anywhere in the world its digital electronic air spring damping solution for the driver’s cab in trucks”.