Looking Into the History of Continental Ag

Head office building of Continental AG in Hannover, Germany.

A Look At Continental AG
Key Points and Facts
Lessons To Consider
Questions and Answers
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A Look Into Continental AG

Continental AG, known simply as Continental, is a giant in the automotive world. Founded in 1871 in Hanover, Germany, this company has become one of the largest makers of tires and industrial rubber products globally.

From tires for cars, motorcycles, and bicycles to brake systems, powertrains, and vehicle electronics, Continental has been at the forefront of automotive innovation.

It supplies significant automobile makers like Volkswagen, BMW, and Ford, ensuring that it’s an integral part of our everyday travel.

The Founding Era

In 1871, a group of visionaries in Hanover established Continental-Caoutchouc und Gutta-Percha Compagnie.

Starting with an initial capital of 900,000 marks, the company began its journey, paying its first dividends in 1875.

In the early years, Continental wasn’t just about tires; it produced a range of products, including waterproof fabrics and footwear.

Origins and Early Years

As the company grew, so did its product range and workforce. In 1892, Continental ventured into manufacturing pneumatic tires for bicycles, and by 1898, it began making tires for automobiles.

The workforce expanded rapidly, from 600 to 12,000, between 1893 and 1913, showcasing the company’s growth.

Business Model and Innovations

Innovation has always been at Continental’s core. In 1904, it became the first company to manufacture grooved vehicle tires, a significant milestone in automotive history.

During the early 20th century, Continental faced various challenges but remained resilient, expanding its product range and venturing into new territories like carbon black for tires in 1924.

The 1970s and 1980s were pivotal for Continental. Facing financial difficulties, it expanded internationally through acquisitions, including Uniroyal’s European tire factories in 1979 and General Tire in the United States in 1987.

These moves transformed Continental into a significant international producer.

In the 1990s, under CEO Hubertus von Grunberg, Continental adopted relentless cost-cutting measures, laying off thousands of workers but increasing net income significantly.

It was also a period of diversification, with the establishment of the Automotive Systems division and investments in auto-electronics businesses.

Throughout its history, Continental has faced and overcome various crises, from technological challenges and increased competition to labor issues.

Despite these hurdles, it has continued to grow and innovate, making a lasting impact on the automotive industry.

The Continental Story: Challenges, Impact, Competition, and More

Challenges and Controversies

In its long journey, Continental AG, a German giant in automotive parts, has faced several hurdles.

From financial difficulties in the 1970s to controversies involving slave labor during World War II, the company has had its share of rough waters. The 1990s brought relentless cost-cutting measures, impacting the workforce significantly.

Additionally, Continental’s history of unwanted takeover attempts, like the one by Pirelli, further highlights its challenging path.

Impact on the Industry

Despite these challenges, Continental’s impact on the automotive industry is undeniable. Starting as a rubber manufacturer in 1871, it revolutionized tire production by introducing grooved vehicle tires in 1904.

As the world’s third-largest automotive supplier and fourth-largest tire manufacturer, Continental has significantly shaped the industry.

Its innovation in products like tubeless and radial tires, and more recently in automotive electronics, has set standards globally.

Main Competitors

In the high-speed race of the automotive industry, Continental faces stiff competition. Significant rivals include Bridgestone, Michelin, and Goodyear in the tire sector.

In automotive parts, Bosch, Denso, and Magna are some of its formidable competitors.

These companies constantly challenge Continental regarding innovation, market share, and global presence.


Continental’s story is one of resilience and innovation. From its humble beginnings to becoming an industry titan, it has navigated controversies, intense competition, and industry changes.

With its significant contributions and global footprint, Continental continues to be a crucial player in the automotive world, driving forward with the spirit of a true pioneer.

As Continental continues its journey, it’s essential to remember that challenges often pave the way for innovation and growth, a lesson that’s as vital in the automotive industry as it is in life.


Key Points about Continental AG

Company Overview

  • Name: Continental AG
  • Industry: Automotive parts manufacturing
  • Founded: October 8, 1871
  • Headquarters: Hanover, Germany
  • Key People: Wolfgang Reitzle (Chairman), Nikolai Setzer (CEO)
  • Products: Tires, brake systems, powertrains, chassis components, automotive safety, vehicle electronics
  • Area Served: Worldwide
  • Revenue (2022): €41,030 million
  • Operating Income (2022): €754.8 million
  • Net Income (2022): €66.6 million
  • Total Assets (2022): €37,926.7 million
  • Total Equity (2022): €13,735.0 million
  • Employees: 199,038
  • Website: www.continental.com

Market Position

  • Ranking: Third-largest automotive supplier and fourth-largest tire manufacturer globally

Product Range

  • Tire Brands: Continental, Viking, General Tire, Gislaved Tires, Semperit Tyres, Barum, Uniroyal, Sportiva, Mabor, Matador


  • Notable Customers: Volkswagen, Daimler AG, BharatBenz, Ford, Volvo, Iveco, Schmitz, Koegel, Freightliner Trucks, BMW, General Motors, Toyota, Honda, Renault, PSA, Porsche

Historical Development

  • Initial Business: Rubber manufacturer (Continental-Caoutchouc und Gutta-Percha Compagnie)
  • Significant Milestones:
    • First grooved vehicle tires (1904)
    • Merged to form Continental Gummi-Werke AG (1920s)
    • Used slave labor during WWII
    • Expansion through acquisitions (Temic, Phoenix AG, Motorola’s automotive electronics unit, Siemens VDO)
    • Plant construction in Costa Rica (2007)
    • Takeover by Schaeffler AG (2008)
    • Returned to DAX index (2012)
    • Tour de France official tire sponsor (2017-2027)
    • Minority stake in Recogni (2021)

Subsidiaries and Acquisitions

  • Parent Company: Schaeffler Group
  • Subsidiaries: General Tire, Continental Automotive Systems, Hoosier Racing Tire, Matador, Phoenix AG, VDO
  • Notable Acquisitions: Temic, DaimlerChrysler’s automotive-electronics business, Phoenix AG, Motorola’s automotive electronics unit, Siemens VDO

Global Presence

  • Americas Headquarters: Fort Mill, South Carolina, USA
  • Tire Industry Entry in North America: 1987 purchase of General Tire

Innovations and Awards

  • Developments: Automotive electrical-energy storage systems
  • Awards: 2016 Automotive News PACE Innovation Partnership Award (with Honda’s U.S. subsidiary), two PACE Awards (2015)

Contact Information

  • Address: Vahrenwalder Strasse 9, D-30165 Hanover, Germany
  • Telephone: +49-0511-938-01
  • Fax: +49-0511-938-81-770
  • Website: http://www.conti-online.com
  • Status: Public Company
  • Stock Exchanges: Hanover OTC
  • Ticker Symbols: CON; CTTAY (ADR)
  • NAIC Codes: 326211, 336322

Key Historical Facts

  • Initial Capital: 900,000 marks
  • First Dividends Paid: 1875
  • Workforce Growth: 600 (1893) to 2,200 (1903)
  • Difficulties Post-WWI: Loss of exports momentum
  • Expansion: Footwear, solid tires, industrial rubber goods, medical supplies, consumer goods
  • Innovation: Cord tire (1921), balloon cord tire (1924), carbon black in tires (1924)
  • Name Change: Continental Gummi-Werke Aktiengesellschaft (1929)

Challenges and Growth

  • 1970s-80s: Recession, oil price impact, transition to radial tires
  • No Profits: Between 1972 and 1974
  • No Dividends: Between 1971 and 1979

Key Dates

  • 1979: Strategic acquisitions begin with Uniroyal’s European tire factories
  • 1987: Continental becomes a major international producer

International Expansion

  • Acquisitions: Uniroyal’s European tire factories, General Tire, Semperit’s tire division, Nivis, Mabor
  • Partnerships: Toyo Rubber Industry Co., Ltd. (Japan), General Tire (U.S.)

Cost-Cutting and Diversification

  • Cost-Cutting: Laying off 10,168 workers (1991-1993), focus on low-cost site production
  • Diversification: Establishment of Automotive Systems division, electromechanical brake system (ISAD), purchase of ITT Industries’ brake and chassis business

Subsidiaries Overview

  • General Tire, Inc.: U.S. subsidiary acquired in 1987
  • Continental Automotive Systems: Formed in 1995
  • Phoenix AG: Acquired in 2004
  • Siemens VDO Automotive: Acquired in 2007

Contact Details


Continental AG

Below is a timeline of Continental AG’s history based on the information provided:

1871: Continental-Caoutchouc und Gutta-Percha Compagnie established in Hanover, Germany.

1892: Began manufacturing pneumatic tires for bicycles.

1898: Commenced the manufacture of pneumatic tires for automobiles.

1904: Introduced patterned tread to tires.

1920: Goodrich acquired a 25% stake in Continental.

1921: Introduced cord tire.

1924: Introduced balloon cord tire and began using carbon black in tires.

1928: Acquired control of Hannoverische Gummiwerke “Excelsior”.

1929: Amalgamated several German rubber firms; name changed to Continental Gummi-Werke Aktiengesellschaft.

1930s: Participated in a rationalization movement in German industry.

1948-1954: Had a technical assistance agreement with General Tire.

1951: Introduced mud and snow tires.

1955: Introduced tubeless tires.

1960: Introduced radial tires.

1964: Invested in a tire factory in France.

1967: Opened Contidrom tire testing track.

1968-1978: Faced multiple crises including technological challenges and increased competition.

1979: Purchased Uniroyal’s European operations.

1981: Contract signed with Toyo Rubber Industry Co., Ltd. in Japan.

1982: Agreement with General Tire in the U.S.

1985: Bought Semperit’s tire division for DM 47 million.

1987: Purchased General Tire, transforming into a major international producer. Name shortened to Continental Aktiengesellschaft.

1991: Industrial Products reorganized under ContiTech brand; CEO Hubertus von Grunberg took over.

1993: Joint venture with Mexican manufacturer Carso; gained majority interest in Czech company Barum.

1995: Established Automotive Systems division.

1997: Net income increased to $176 million.

1998: $1.93 billion purchase of ITT Industries’ brake and chassis business.

2001: $570 million spent on controlling interest in DaimlerChrysler’s Temic auto-electronics business.

2002: Broad restructuring, job cuts, and plant closures continue.

2004: Purchased Phoenix AG.

2006: Acquired Motorola’s automotive electronics unit; ceased tire production in Charlotte and Mayfield, Kentucky.

2007: Acquired Siemens VDO from Siemens AG; constructed a plant in Costa Rica for powertrain components.

2008: Became a hostile takeover target of Schaeffler AG; Schaeffler Group took over Continental in a deal valued at approximately €12 billion.

2011: Announced the construction of a plant in Sumter, South Carolina.

2012: Ranked third in global OEM automotive parts sales; returned to the DAX index on September 6, after a 45-month absence.

2016: Purchased Hoosier Racing Tire; announced the construction of a Commercial Tire plant in Clinton, Mississippi; honored with the 2016 Automotive News PACE Innovation Partnership Award together with Honda’s U.S. subsidiary.

2017: Signed a partnership as the Tour de France official tire sponsor till 2027.

2018: Purchased Kmart Tyre and Auto in Australia from Wesfarmers for A$350 million in November.

2020: Nikolai Setzer took over as CEO on November 13.

2021: Acquired a minority stake in Recogni in February to advance autonomous driving technology.

2022: Resumed tire production in Russia in April despite international sanctions.


Teachable Lessons from Continental AG’s History

Embracing Innovation and Adaptation

Continental AG’s journey from a rubber manufacturer to a leading automotive supplier demonstrates the importance of innovation and adaptation.

The company’s early shift from plain tread to grooved vehicle tires and its foray into pneumatic tires for bicycles and automobiles exemplify a commitment to innovation.

This highlights the lesson that continual innovation is crucial for staying relevant and competitive.

Overcoming Challenges through Diversification

Continental faced multiple crises between 1968 and 1978, including technological challenges and increased competition.

Their response, including the acquisition of Uniroyal’s European operations and General Tire in the U.S., underscores the value of diversification in overcoming industry-specific challenges and mitigating risks.

Navigating Through Adversity

The company’s experiences during World War II and under the Nazi regime, as well as the unwanted takeover attempt by Pirelli in the 1990s, reveal the importance of resilience in business.

Continental’s ability to weather these storms and maintain growth teaches that enduring and navigating through adversity is a vital aspect of long-term success.

Strategic Partnerships and Global Expansion

Continental’s partnerships, like the one with Toyo in Japan, and its strategic acquisitions for international expansion illustrate the power of collaboration and global outreach.

These moves enabled Continental to enhance its market presence and access new technologies, offering a lesson in leveraging partnerships for growth.

Ethical Considerations and Corporate Responsibility

The use of slave labor provided by the Nazi Party during World War II serves as a grim reminder of the importance of ethical considerations and corporate responsibility.

It’s crucial for companies to uphold ethical standards and be accountable for their actions.

Adaptability to Market Changes

Continental’s shift to radial tires during a period of recession and higher oil prices in the 1970s, and their relentless cost-cutting in the 1990s, highlight the importance of being adaptable to market changes.

This adaptability is crucial for survival and success in fluctuating economic environments.

Investing in Future Technologies

Continental’s acquisition of stakes in companies like Recogni to advance autonomous driving technology underscores the importance of investing in future technologies.

This forward-thinking approach is vital for staying ahead in rapidly evolving industries.

Dealing with Controversial Decisions

Continental’s decision to resume tire production in Russia in 2022 despite international sanctions poses questions about navigating complex geopolitical landscapes.

It’s a reminder that businesses often face difficult decisions that may have far-reaching consequences.

Longevity Through Continuous Growth

Finally, Continental’s journey from its inception in 1871 to becoming one of the world’s largest makers of tires and industrial products teaches the importance of continuous growth and evolution for longevity in business.

Continental AG’s history is a rich source of lessons in innovation, resilience, strategic partnerships, ethical responsibility, and adaptability, offering valuable insights for businesses and entrepreneurs.


Frequently Asked Questions about Continental AG

1. What is Continental AG?

  • Continental AG, commonly known as Continental, is a German multinational automotive parts manufacturing company.

2. When was Continental AG founded?

  • It was founded on October 8, 1871.

3. Where is the headquarters of Continental AG?

  • The headquarters is located in Hanover, Germany.

4. What areas does Continental AG serve?

  • Continental AG serves areas worldwide.

5. Who are the key people in Continental AG?

  • Wolfgang Reitzle (Chairman) and Nikolai Setzer (CEO) are the key people.

6. What products does Continental AG offer?

  • Products include tires, brake systems, powertrains, chassis components, automotive safety, and vehicle electronics.

7. What was Continental AG’s revenue in 2022?

  • Their revenue in 2022 was €41,030 million.

8. Who is the parent company of Continental AG?

  • The parent company is Schaeffler Group.

9. Can you name some subsidiaries of Continental AG?

  • Subsidiaries include General Tire, Continental Automotive Systems, Hoosier Racing Tire, Matador, Phoenix AG, and VDO.

10. What is the ranking of Continental AG in the automotive industry?

  • Continental is the world’s third-largest automotive supplier and the fourth-largest tire manufacturer.

11. What types of vehicles does Continental sell tires for?

  • They sell tires for automobiles, motorcycles, and bicycles.

12. Who are some of Continental AG’s customers?

  • Customers include major automobile, truck, and bus producers such as Volkswagen, Daimler AG, BharatBenz, Ford, and many more.

13. When did Continental AG begin developing and producing vehicle tires?

  • They began this in 1898.

14. When did Continental become the first company to manufacture grooved vehicle tires?

  • This occurred in 1904.

15. What was a significant event for Continental AG during World War II?

  • They used slave labor provided by the Nazi Party in their factories.

16. What acquisitions and partnerships has Continental AG made in the 21st century?

  • They acquired a controlling interest in Temic in 2001, purchased Phoenix AG in 2004, and acquired Siemens VDO in 2007, among others.

17. When did Schaeffler Group take over Continental AG?

  • Schaeffler Group took over in August 2008 in a deal valued at approximately €12 billion.

18. What is the address of Continental AG’s headquarters?

  • Continental AG’s address is Vahrenwalder Strasse 9, D-30165 Hanover, Germany.

19. What was the sales revenue of Continental AG in 2002?

  • The sales revenue in 2002 was $11.95 billion.

20. What were some key challenges faced by Continental AG in the late 1960s to mid-1990s?

  • They faced multiple crises including technological challenges, increased competition, labor issues, and an unwanted takeover attempt by Pirelli.

These questions provide a comprehensive overview of Continental AG’s history, operations, products, and key milestones.

More About Continental AG

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Documentaries on Continental AG offer deep insights into its rich history, combining extensive research and engaging storytelling. They provide a well-structured journey through the company’s evolution and innovations.

Continental AG Executive Team

A management team shapes a company’s destiny, handling all within its control.

For a century-old entity like Continental AG, management evolution is pivotal.

By exploring the provided link, delve into the achievements and challenges of both current and past leadership, understanding how they’ve steered the company through times of change.

Working at Continental AG

Employee reviews provide insights into management’s treatment of staff.

Numerous of negative reviews may signal management issues, necessitating better communication with employees.

Conversely, numerous positive reviews indicate effective management, showcasing efforts to cultivate a positive workplace culture.

See the link below to review feedback from employees.

Complaints and Lawsuits

Legitimate complaints and lawsuits can signal management issues, more common in larger corporations.

Today, social media enables companies to monitor online feedback, identify trends, and address valid concerns, facilitating ongoing improvement in response to public sentiment.

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Company Profile

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Investment Outlook

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Continental AG – Wikipedia

Continental AG | Encyclopedia.com

Competition and Growth: A Contemporary History of the Continental AG

Bärbel Miemietz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons