After two years of construction, Continental’s powertrain division Vitesco Technologies has put its new plant in Debrecen, Hungary, into operation. Electronics and transmission sensors for drives for use in fully electric and electrified vehicles are manufactured there on an area of around 7,000 square metres.
First of all, an innovative transmission control unit will be manufactured in large-scale production at the new plant. It is said to be more robust and lighter than conventional devices, and thanks to a new type of overmoulding process it also requires significantly fewer production steps, according to a Vitesco statement. “This is thanks to an innovative process known as overmolding. Here, the electronic components, which are arranged on a printed circuit board as in classic control units, are embedded in plastic. Vitesco Technologies uses new, high-precision injection molding processes as well as new, particularly resistant plastics,” the supplier states.
Vitesco Technologies is also the company that developed the drive control unit for Volkswagen’s MEB electric modular system. The Regensburg-based company is the sole supplier of the component for the MEB platform.
Back in Hungary, the production plant in Debrecen covers other components in the field of electrification and electromobility, including 48-volt belt starter generators for mild hybrids, in addition to electronic controls. “We are systematically aligning our company to the growth market of electronics and electrification. With our new production facility in Debrecen, we are expanding our European production network and are able to competitively handle our customers’ increasing demand for efficient and clean drive technologies with high quality standards,” expresses Andreas Wolf, CEO of Vitesco Technologies.
Vitesco says it has invested a total of around 100 million euros in the plant in eastern Hungary near the border with Romania. The plant is equipped in accordance with the Industry 4.0 approach with, among other things, autonomous transport robots in the production hall, an intelligent warehouse management system, computer-assisted maintenance systems and other automated building functions, it says. The manufacturer is aiming for LEED environmental certification for the plant, among other things, it says, the facility has fully integrated building and energy management systems that control building parameters based on real-time demand.
“This high-tech plant is already showing what the factory of tomorrow will look like – intelligent, lean and green. With the latest Industry 4.0 solutions in all production areas and with a clear focus on the environment and sustainability, we are actively shaping the future of production at Vitesco Technologies,” affirms Dr Hans-Jürgen Braun, Head of Operations and thus responsible for Vitesco Technologies’ global manufacturing network.
Continental’s powertrain division (formerly Powertrain) was actually to be spun off and floated on the stock exchange. However, in view of the uncertainties in the wake of the Corona crisis, Continental decided in May 2020 to postpone the spin-off indefinitely. This step would be taken “as soon as the market environment for this has noticeably improved and stabilised”, it was said at the time.
Brief review: In mid-2018, Continental announced a comprehensive restructuring. The corporation is to be managed under the new umbrella brand Continental Group as a holding company with the three divisions Rubber, Automotive and Powertrain. Of particular interest from an e-mobility perspective is the Powertrain division, which has since been renamed Vitesco Technologies and which, in addition to the combustion engine business, also combines hybrid and electric drives as well as all ongoing battery activities. Among the more than 240,000 employees of the group, around 40,000 work in this area.
With reporting by Cora Werwitzke, France.
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