Technology advancements and the evolution of personal transport over the last 100+ years mean that car makers, and suppliers to the automotive industry – like Continental – have had to continually adapt to keep pace with change. It’s also the case that the award-winning premium tyre manufacturer has also driven much of this change, leaving others to catch up.
In 1871, Continental was founded as a rubber manufacturing company. The automotive revolution had not yet begun, but it was close. Now, in 2019, Continental continues to be one of the most advanced rubber manufacturers in the world, creating world-leading tyres, but it’s also evolved to become a world-class automotive technology company that delivers solutions for powertrains, chassis and safety, interiors, and other software and technologies.
Continuous development has allowed Continental to become one of the giants of the global automotive industry, and evolution is the challenge that car manufacturers will face heading into the coming decades, as the world begins to question what a car could or should be. We’re on the brink of the greatest transport revolution the world has seen since the introduction of the automobile itself.
The human factor
With the fast progression of automation in the automotive sector, questions are being asked about the role people will have in future car development. Semi-autonomous technology is already found in the majority of modern cars. Already, with minimal driver involvement, cars can automatically change lanes, speed up and slow down, and even self-park. Given this pace of change, who’s to say what will come next? In twenty years time, will we just be supervising the artificial intelligence that does the driving for us, in autonomous vehicles?
If this proves to be the case, the driver’s relationship with the car will fundamentally change, akin to that of a passenger. Will this lead to cars becoming completely different environments for their occupants? Will they look more like a living space than a typical current car interior. They could end up offering extremely high levels of comfort, infotainment systems, and advanced connectivity. It’s only logical. After all, if we’re no longer required to spend our time focused on driving, time in a car should be put to better use, right?
Autonomous, electric vehicles – and beyond
Currently, we are astride the bridge between traditional combustion engines and electrification. Manufacturers are working extremely hard to ensure that the vehicles they introduce over the next decade are flexible enough to switch from fossil fuel engines to emissions-free electric motors. Some governments around the world (including the UK) have announced deadlines after which the sale of cars with combustion engines will cease.
How will famous automotive marques – famed throughout the world for their thrilling engines and driver engagement – be able to stay relevant in an electrified world?
To support the flood of electric cars anticipated to be driven in the UK over the next decade or two, charging points are being built across the country. Some private individuals and businesses are having smaller chargers installed at their home and places of work, respectively. We may even see vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cell enjoying a greater share of the car market.
With the future uncertain, and many possibilities, car manufacturers are likely to be showcasing some very exotic concept vehicles in the years ahead. What a car should and could be is currently being debated and researched by designers and engineers across the world. Continental is helping to both drive and shape this conversation, preparing for any eventuality, thanks to the extensive research, development and diversity of its engineering and manufacturing portfolio.
While nothing about the future is ever certain, we are living in exciting times for the automotive industry, and we will all witness some fascinating advances in motoring over the next few years.