The growing importance of intelligent, networked cars that can communicate with the driver and the environment will turn the entire industry on its head, according to major German component supplier Continental.
“The automobile industry has been a closed club for decades and it has been dominated by the mechanical world,” Continental’s car electronic chief, Christian Senger, said Wednesday, the second media day of the 65th IAA car show in Germany’s business capital Frankfurt.
“With the advent of ‘intelligent cars’, it’s time to open up the automotive world and work hand-in-hand with the IT industry,” Senger said.
According to Senger, established carmakers must rethink their cooperation with young, innovative firms from other sectors.
“We will have to find a way to work together,” he said. The Continental manager said combining old-school and new company cultures was a big challenge, just like the complex technology involved.
Continental, which is listed on Germany’s DAX stock exchange, has already forged new alliances. It recently started working with network systems supplier Cisco and technological giant IBM. The aim is to improve driver assistance and warning systems, which use huge quantities of computer data.
According to the company, cooperation on car networking is a prelude to autonomous motoring, when cars will pilot along the motorways unaided while the driver watches TV or checks emails. This could become reality by 2025, said Senger.
Smart cars that can keep the driver informed of potential road hazards and interact with other cars and the outside world are a major topic at the show, where dozens of new cars are being unveiled.
New models include ground-breaking, all-electric runabouts from BMW and Volkswagen, along with hybrid petrol-electric sports cars and luxury saloons designed to be both fast and frugal.
The show is due to be officially opened on Thursday by Chancellor Angela Merkel and will go public from Saturday until September 22.
The auto industry is one of Germany’s largest employers.