Elmar Degenhart, chief executive officer of Continental, in an interview with Automotive News Europe, provided insights on how cars will fundamentally change in the next few years, stating that there will be a “kind of first-class 'feel-good zone' on four wheels” equipped with telecommunication, sensors and cameras.
He mentioned that the new vehicles will help in a wide range of activities that are as basic as breaking, steering, parking and driving. The new vehicles will also help in informing, orienting, communicating, and providing entertainment to its passengers. As an example, cameras will become a standard feature within 10 years.
Degenhart stated that the general technology is already available to create environment recognition innovations and must now be made available in the market in large quantities. By then, accident-free driving will be possible.
In addition, the technology will help prevent rear-end collisions, Degenhart explained. He predicts that communication will change quickly, stating that in order to attract the younger generation to a vehicle model, it must have everything that is already available in the social environment. For one, automakers will have to deal with the challenge of providing the ideal Internet services at competitive rates.
According to Degenhart, since drivers younger than 30 years old seldom drive premium vehicles, the technology must be “developed scale-ably” so that it will be made available to midrange and compact vehicles in the future. Degenhart further revealed that what was previously invested in tuning and performance is now increasingly being diverted into functionality and communication.
“More networking and less horsepower” will be the slogan. This is also due to the increasing concern for the environment. Continental belongs to the 3rd rank on the list of Automotive News Europe on the top 100 international suppliers with worldwide sales to vehicle manufacturers of $24.8 billion in 2010. The European region comprises 57 percent of that total.
Based in Hanover, Germany, Continental AG was established in 1871 as Continental-Caoutchouc und Gutta-Percha Compagnie. In 1898, Continental started development and production of the vehicle tires with plain tread. In 1904, Continental became the first tire manufacturer to produce grooved vehicle tires.
In the late 1920s, Continental combined with other companies to form Continental Gummi-Werke AG. In August 2008, Continental agreed to be acquired by the much smaller Schaeffler Group. The family-owned Schaeffler Group directly and indirectly holds a stake of 75 percent in Continental AG. In 2009, Schaeffler was able to install Elmar Degenhart – then head of its motor division -- as the new CEO of Continental.