NEWPORT NEWS — Continental, the German company that makes automotive powertrain systems, is closing its Newport News plant by 2024 because of new technology in the industry. About 740 people are currently employed at the location.
“We see the technological upheaval in our industries first and foremost as a huge growth opportunity and are responding proactively to the emerging crisis in the automotive industry,” said Elma Degenhart, CEO of Continental.
Continental specializes in brake systems, powertrain and other car parts, with the Newport News plant, 615 Bland Blvd., manufacturing hydraulic parts for gas engines or injectors. The company plans to cut €500 million each year from 2023 which roughly translates to $546.7 million.
The company said that as many as 20,000 of over 244,000 jobs company-wide will be “affected by changes,” around 15,000 by the end of 2023, including an unspecified number of job cuts.
Continental said changes may also result from the possible sale of parts of the business and from jobs being transferred to other company locations, or to technologies such as electric mobility.
According to the company’s news release, Continental describes the automotive crisis as the industry changing to a more “digitalized” environment with stricter gas emission laws.
In addition, the company plan to update its existing workforce development program, Continental in Motion, to provide customized training for the employees affected, starting with its Germany locations.
“As social partners at Continental, Continental in Motion will see us take on responsibility with a view to the future,” said Ariane Reinhart, executive board member for Human Relations. “We will actively shape the transformation rather than simply let it happen.”
The company noted existing customer orders at the Newport News plant will be honored.
Newport News Continental near Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport is one of two U.S. locations shutting down. The other, Henderson, North Carolina currently has 650 employees and it is not clear when the company plans to shut down that location.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.