From rubber to software program, Continental epitomises mobility evolution

The CEO of Continental France talks megatrends and 150 years of historical past with Megan Lampinen

On this rising ecosystem of recent mobility, suppliers should be resilient and adaptable if they’re to stay related. A long time of expertise supplying autos is now not enough to make sure survival on this new software-based area, and market consolidation is inevitable. Nevertheless, there are a handful of long-time gamers that, just like the cockroach, seem in a position to stand up to and even thrive in a interval of speedy change. At 150 years outdated, Continental AG is proving it has what it takes  to assist form the way forward for mobility.

From purses to autonomous autos

The German Tier 1 estimates that its know-how is present in three out of each 4 international autos on the highway at the moment. That’s not a nasty boast for an organization that started off over 150 years in the past in a world very completely different to at the moment. Its roots are in rubber, and its rubber-based merchandise have discovered their approach into all the things from purses to bicycles. With this information it constructed up a strong popularity in car tyre know-how, however at the moment its automotive enterprise is all about software program.

Continental celebrated its a hundred and fiftieth anniversary in October 2021

“We now have positioned ourselves as a Tier 1 provider primarily in electronics,” says Stefan Could, Chief Government and Nation Head of Continental in France. Continental has been energetic in France for simply over 130 years. Could has served within the prime position since 2019 however has gathered greater than 30 years on the provider and witnessed first-hand its evolution. He just lately took Automotive World on a tour of the corporate’s Toulouse facility, a hub for automotive electronics growth, manufacturing and testing.

“The unique thought was to combine electronics in vehicles,” he defined. “OEMs instantly wanted data in embedded methods and that data was discovered within the area trade.” Toulouse is indisputably the aeronautics and area capital of Europe; it was the birthplace of the airborne postal service almost a century in the past and is at present residence to Airbus HQ. “It made sense to take learnings from the area trade and apply it to automotive, because the experience is identical,” he emphasises.

That was a substantial soar from its roots in rubber. “Why did we transfer from rubber to automotive? All of it focuses on security,” he explains. “What are the issues bodily close to a tyre? Brakes. Brakes guarantee security. In 1991 Continental purchased an organization energetic in brakes and that’s the place this automotive diversification began. We by no means stopped shopping for automotive gear specialists, which leads to our present type at the moment.”

It made sense to take learnings from the area trade and apply it to automotive, because the experience is identical

It hasn’t simply been shopping for, although. It has additionally been refining. In April 2021, shareholders permitted the spin-off of its powertrain enterprise into Vitesco Expertise to concentrate on electrical propulsion. “That was it—no extra powertrain,” says Could. “Why? Everybody talks about electrification. We predict the main trade positions in powertrain have been already taken, sadly, by Asian firms. Europe misplaced this battle to some extent.”

Highlight on software program

It may need missed the boat on that exact utility, however there was one other on which it might extra totally capitalise: software program. “We consider the remaining, and the remaining is principally software program. Software program is in all places. Software program means automated driving and connectivity,” says Could. “New architectures will come to life in 2025 and 2026, introducing extra centralised zonal architectures. With these you want to be sure to are managing the whole software program stack from embedded to cloud, together with center put on and the working system.”

Stefan May
Stefan Could has lead Continental France for the previous three years

That is the place Continental is now investing closely. On the ITS European Congress 2022 (30 Could to 1 June), based mostly in Toulouse, the provider is spotlighting a few of its newest improvements on this entrance. This contains sensible intersection options, a pedestrian detection system, a cloud-based ‘key as a service’ resolution, an HPC to facilitate software program updates and a 5G sensible antenna demonstrator for autos. In the meantime, the corporate’s manufacturing facility in Toulouse seems such important elements as controllers, tyre strain administration methods and 5G antennas.

“We’re working with numerous automakers on the software program structure to ensure the capabilities for which we stand—braking, connectivity, security options, multimedia—proceed to work in a unique E/E structure and environments,” notes Could. “That results in questions round cyber safety and connectivity everywhere. Does 5G want to have the ability to utterly assure connectivity in all areas of the world? Maybe not. It simply means it would.”

He factors particularly to the position that satellites can play in realising a related mobility ecosystem, and Toulouse itself is a centre for satellite tv for pc experience. Down the highway from Continental’s campus is the Airbus facility the place a staff are at present hand-assembling a variety of satellites for each conceivable utility. “Toulouse is a satellite tv for pc city,” says Could. “We work together with individuals from the area trade to get extra data about that.”

Taking advantage of its location and the know-how at hand on this hotbed of engineering, Continental’s French division demonstrates the type of initiative and adaptableness that might see the corporate stick round for one more 150 years. It’s what the cockroach would do. The group-wide goal at Continental is to grow to be the benchmark for the mobility of the long run. If progress continues at this price, it stands probability of reaching that.

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