Conti gears up for car industry’s “most profound transition”
German technology and automotive company Continental Corp. is well-prepared for the automotive industry’s “most profound transformation since its inception,” according to CEO Dr. Elmar Degenhart.
“We are in a marathon that is already well underway, and Continental is one of the front runners,” said Degenhart, during the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Hanover, 26 April.
Referring to the major group-wide restructuring bid and Continental’s increasing investments in new technologies, the CEO said his company was fully focused on future mobility in terms of “technology, organisation and mentality”.
Conti’s main centre of focus will be on three fields of alternative drive systems, autonomous driving, as well as interconnectivity and the cloud, which according to Degenhart will be shaping the future of the automotive industry in the next two decades.
Amongst many, one area of investment for Continental will be in software technology, in which one-third of its 49,000 engineering workforce are active.
“In the coming years, sales with software will increase tenfold compared to today,” said Degenhart, explaining the trend based on market data.
According to Conti, cars today require more than 100 million lines of software code for their functions, and the amount of software required for future functions is likely to increase tenfold.
“Our digital solutions include the recording of vehicle data from afar. For instance, we are monitoring the condition of the tires. Or we are turning the smartphone into a car key,” Degenhart pointed out.
By the end of 2022, Continental expects the number of its software and IT experts to increase from the current level of 19,000 to 25,000.
The company is also heavily investing in autonomous driving technologies, expecting to achieve sales of over €2bn from the segment this year.
“Today, every vehicle around the world has an average of two sensors for advanced driver assistance systems. A car needs about 18 sensors for partially automated driving and in the case of fully automated or autonomous driving, this number increases to 30,” explained Degenhart, adding that Conti is “growing accordingly.”
The Conti CEO also voiced his opinion about environmental concerns over future drive systems and “populism” when it comes to the topic.
“Populism just fuels emotions. It does not reduce emissions. Only eco-efficient drive systems can do that. They alone are acceptable and affordable,” he said, referring to the potential use of ultra-clean diesel-fuelled engines.
“For small, lightweight vehicles, the all-electric drive system will probably be the best choice… For heavy vehicles, which are usually on the road more often and for longer stretches, the battery is not an eco-efficient option.
“But the ultra-clean diesel and clean gasoline engines combined with an electric drive system are already helping the climate today,” Degenhart pointed out.