German automotive manufacturing company Continental has built a state-of-the-art research and development (R&D) center in Querétaro with an investment of around US$58 million, where it will employ Mexican engineers to develop digital technology for the global auto industry, particularly for collision avoidance systems.
The R&D center began operations with around 160 people, with company executives saying they will have hired 400 people in total by the end of this year. The company has plans to expand the headcount to 1,100 over the next 5 years.
Most of the new recruits will work as software and algorithm developers. Engineers will also focus on developing solutions that reduce carbon emissions and improve driver-vehicle interaction.
Kurt Lehmann, Technology Director at Continental, said the auto company chose Querétaro because the state has a large amount of young talent.
Helmut Matschi, a member of the Executive Board of Continental, said that the global auto industry is facing many challenges on its way to develop innovative technologies. “Mexico is a success story,” he said, referring to the company’s Jalisco R&D center launched in 2000.
The Querétaro center features laboratories, mechanical workshops, and meeting rooms, among other amenities.
Continental’s Mexican unit has so far developed more than 300 digital products and the company is seeking patents for 30 of them.
“What we are looking for is to replicate this type of achievement, people who are working on the issue of autonomy, to prevent accidents, to put the intelligence to the vehicle,” said Jorge Vázquez Murillo, director of the R&D Center of Mexico.
The German firm runs 19 manufacturing plants in Mexico.