AG.Continental CEO Dr. Elmar Degenhart is preparing the company to capitalize on the massive changes happening in the auto industry. Photo by Continental AG. Continental CEO Dr. Elmar Degenhart is preparing the company to capitalize on the massive changes occurring in the auto industry. Photo by Continental

Like many long-established companies involved in the automotive industry, major Tier 1 supplier Continental has anticipated and is now experiencing a major shift in its business due to changes brought about by technology. Fast paced innovation in vehicle software and connectivity, autonomous driving and fuel efficiency mean that auto industry giants like Continental need to react faster than ever and are encountering tough challenges as well as new opportunities.

How Continental is preparing to capitalize on the massive changes occurring in the automotive industry ?

Forbes: What is Continental’s vision for the future related to technology?

Elmar Degenhart: From my point of view, the vision of our company has a lot to do with our responsibilities and social obligations and it’s threefold. First of all, we have to develop more efficient powertrain solutions. We now have more than one billion light vehicles on the road in the world, and this number will go up to two billion by around 2040, which is good for the automotive industry. But if we don’t get these vehicles clean, we will to kill this planet environmentally. I believe we have the technology in the next 10 years to do this.

Second, we have 1.3 million traffic fatalities and 50 million injuries per year. We have the technology available which will allow us to put car accidents into the museum. It’s a big task of the automotive industry to push efforts to allow accident-free driving not only at the top with premium vehicles, but with all vehicles. That is the reason why autonomous driving is the fastest growing product sector in our company. By 2018 we will achieve 1.5 billion euro in sales in advanced driver assistance systems [ADAS], coming from zero only eight or nine years ago.

The third is connectivity and information from cars that can be used by other parties for the benefit of safety, efficiency and comfort. Driver assist systems allow us to only detect around the vehicle a maximum of 300 meters because the range of sensors is limited. But we have to look further ahead. We have to know what’s around the corner. We want to know where a pedestrian may be coming across the street, which we cannot see.

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