The town of Korbach in Hesse is synonymous with rubber. The Continental plant in the town produces 30,000 car, SUV and van tires per day. Right next door, Germany's only bicycle tire plant manufactures tires for the professional riders in the Tour de France. Highly skilled employees hand stitch these special tires for the world's most famous bike race. But of course, these Grand-Prix series tires can also be found adorning the wheels of amateur cyclists. Still on the subject of two-wheelers, Korbach also delivers reliable grip for motorbikes as well, always assuming their tires bear the name Continental on the sidewall. High load-bearing capacity and indestructibility are the hallmarks of the industrial tires – for forklift trucks, for example – which are also made in Korbach. And there are the ContiTech production shops that make hoses for carrying liquids and gases in both automotive and industrial applications. Without the products from Continental, Europe's largest rubber specialist, many vehicles would probably never get off the production line.
What is most striking about the tires manufactured in Korbach is the range of different products – Continental's plant produces virtually any kind of tire for just about anything on wheels. From compact cars to heavy forklifts, from super sports cars and SUVs to mountain bikes and folding bicycles – tires from Korbach deliver maximum grip, safety and fun. And not just for the domestic market. Our employees' reputation for craftsmanship means that this corner of Germany also produces high performance tires that are strictly prohibited on the country’s own roads.
Tires with special "bonded" studs are one of Korbach's specialties. Away from prying eyes, a studding machine inserts the studs using a specially developed process to ensure maximum strength and durability. Winter tires with the "Made in Korbach" label are developed and built with such expertise that even the highly critical Scandinavian trade press is regularly thrilled with their performance. As the Continental Corporation’s center of excellence for winter tire production, Korbach remains the pilot plant when scaling up new processes and components for building winter tires. To ensure the safety of Europe's drivers in winter too, the tire plant turns the seasons on their heads: With the sun beating down on the production shops at the height of summer and the employees are sweating beside their 120°C curing presses, they are already well into the winter season, producing winter tires for central Europe and studded winter tires for Nordic roads.
The High Performance Technology Center (HPTC) is the new kid on the block in Korbach. It produces short runs of test tires and high-tech tires for luxury-class super sports cars, and tries out new production processes. Continental has invested €45 million in this facility, officially opened in June 2016, creating a total of 80 new jobs. And having built the world's most advanced tire production plant, Continental will now be carrying out some R&D work – traditionally the preserve of Hanover – in Korbach too.
A thoroughbred Continental motorcycle racing tire is used in various classes in Germany's Seriensport races for street-legal machines. Again, Korbach is behind this tire and also developed it at the plant, where the two-wheeler specialists have their own R&D department right next door. Continental’s two-wheeler tires are also in demand in both the original equipment and replacement markets, delivering maximum grip and safety.
Korbach is also home to ContiTech Schlauch which produces under-the-hood and underbody hoses. In the absence of these hoses and manifolds, neither fuel, nor brake fluid nor exhaust gas could move around the car and engine. To do their job, these flexible lines have to be extremely resistant to heat and pressure. Even the quantities involved are amazing – the plant produces over 185,000 meters of hose per day, enough to reach from the factory gates all the way to Cologne. In addition, hoses are produced for the food processing industry, aircraft refuelling and horticulture. Other products include hose bends and parts for connecting the various lines and hoses in cars.
For Korbach's 24,000 or so inhabitants, the plant is the largest employer and, with apprentice numbers currently standing at 146, one of the region's largest training organizations, as well.