SAN JOSE, California -- Continental is expanding its footprint in Silicon Valley with the opening of a 65,000-square-foot r&d center in San Jose.
The site, which opened Wednesday, can hold more than 300 employees and is the first location to house all five of the supplier’s divisions. The facility will focus primarily on r&d, enabling cooperation among the supplier's chassis and safety, interior, powertrain, tires, and rubber and plastics teams.
“If everyone is working together, we believe the innovation power will break loose,” Samir Salman, Continental’s CEO for North America, told Automotive News.
Salman said he could not disclose the amount Continental spent on the new location but said the supplier is investing “tens of millions” of dollars each year in its Silicon Valley operations, including salaries.
Continental has been in Silicon Valley since 2014, growing to 60 employees at its office in Santa Clara. Those employees will move to San Jose, along with engineers from the supplier’s other locations. About 70 percent of the expected 300 employees will be recruited from the Bay Area and surrounding universities. Salman said he expects the facility to reach capacity by 2020, with at least 120 employees by the end of this year.
Dirk Remde, formerly Continental’s head of chassis electronics, will serve as the center’s executive director.
Other suppliers have maintained a relatively small research presence in the area. Robert Bosch operates a research center in Palo Alto with 101 employees, Denso’s San Jose location opened in 2011 with the goal of growing to 20 employees by this year, and Delphi Labs in Mountain View had about 15 employees as of 2014.
Continental’s focus on Silicon Valley will facilitate acquisitions and partnerships with tech companies and research universities as the supplier develops its autonomous driving technology, Salman said. It will also continue to develop electrified powertrains as well as exploring new mobility technologies.