From rubber to software program, Continental epitomises mobility evolution

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 have to be resilient and adaptable if they’re to stay related. A long time of expertise supplying automobiles is not adequate 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 capable of stand up to and even thrive in a interval of fast change. At 150 years previous, Continental AG is proving it has what it takes  to assist form the way forward for mobility.

From purses to autonomous automobiles

The German Tier 1 estimates that its expertise is present in three out of each 4 international automobiles on the highway immediately. That’s not a foul boast for an organization that started off over 150 years in the past in a world very totally different to immediately. Its roots are in rubber, and its rubber-based merchandise have discovered their approach into every thing from purses to bicycles. With this information it constructed up a stable status in car tyre expertise, however immediately its automotive enterprise is all about software program.

Continental celebrated its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary in October 2021

“We have now positioned ourselves as a Tier 1 provider primarily in electronics,” says Stefan Could, Chief Govt and Nation Head of Continental in France. Continental has been lively in France for simply over 130 years. Could has served within the prime function since 2019 however has amassed 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 abruptly wanted information in embedded programs and that information was discovered within the house trade.” Toulouse is indisputably the aeronautics and house capital of Europe; it was the birthplace of the airborne postal service almost a century in the past and is at present dwelling to Airbus HQ. “It made sense to take learnings from the house 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 lively in brakes and that’s the place this automotive diversification began. We by no means stopped shopping for automotive gear specialists, which ends up in our present type immediately.”

It made sense to take learnings from the house 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 Know-how to deal with electrical propulsion. “That was it—no extra powertrain,” says Could. “Why? Everybody talks about electrification. We predict the main trade positions in powertrain had been already taken, sadly, by Asian firms. Europe misplaced this battle to some extent.”

Highlight on software program

It might need missed the boat on that specific software, however there was one other on which it might extra totally capitalise: software program. “We consider the remainder, and the remainder 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 should be sure you are managing the entire 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), primarily based in Toulouse, the provider is spotlighting a few of its newest improvements on this entrance. This contains good intersection options, a pedestrian detection system, a cloud-based ‘key as a service’ resolution, an HPC to facilitate software program updates and a 5G good antenna demonstrator for automobiles. In the meantime, the corporate’s manufacturing facility in Toulouse seems such important parts as controllers, tyre strain administration programs and 5G antennas.

“We’re working with varied automakers on the software program structure to ensure the features 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 all over the place. Does 5G want to have the ability to fully assure connectivity in all areas of the world? Maybe not. It simply means it’d.”

He factors particularly to the function 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 software. “Toulouse is a satellite tv for pc city,” says Could. “We work together with individuals from the house trade to get extra information about that.”

Taking advantage of its location and the know-how at hand on this hotbed of engineering, Continental’s French division demonstrates the form of initiative and flexibility that might see the corporate stick round for an additional 150 years. It’s what the cockroach would do. The group-wide goal at Continental is to develop into the benchmark for the mobility of the longer term. If progress continues at this fee, it stands a superb likelihood of attaining that.


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September 2022