New products, processes, and business models: Digitalization and connectivity are causing one of the most comprehensive transformations the car has undergone since its invention. Software is defining the mobility of the future and thus fundamentally changing the automotive industry.
As vehicles become smarter, increasingly automated, and more sustainable, their architecture is changing from distributed to centralized structures. This enables comprehensive optimization of vehicle architectures as well as upgradeability and updatability over the entire service life of the vehicle. For Continental, this development means new challenges – but also opportunities.
As today’s vehicle architectures reach their limits in terms of complexity and capabilities, the future will require centralized, server-based architectures that increasingly complement and replace the traditional hardware focus in the industry. The implemented software enables the exchange of data as well as communication with the cloud, other vehicles, road users or the infrastructure.
The underlying computing power for various functional areas in the vehicle is thereby concentrated in a few powerful central computers, while zone controllers ensure the reliable execution of vehicle functions. In this way, the software frees itself from hardware constraints and creates the prerequisite for continuous updates and improvements for the vehicle, which can easily take place wirelessly.
Digital transformation brings new value streams
With the In-Car Application Server 1 (ICAS1) for the VW ID series, Continental is the world’s first supplier to offer a high-performance server for vehicles with the associated software in series production. Not only this system integration as the largest project of the last 25 years demonstrates Continental's competence in mastering vehicle architectures, the holistic integration of technologies and the highly complex project management. Continental already has an order volume of €5 billion for domain-specific high-performance computers, and more than 20 additional series launches of various vehicle models and manufacturers coming up in 2021 and 2022 alone.
Continental is already working on the next generation of vehicle computers for the future of software-centric and fully connected vehicles. With the so-called Continental Automotive Edge Platform, Continental is taking a cross-domain approach and offering a modular platform consisting of high-performance computers, software, and cloud platforms as well as services and applications. The flexible modular system makes it possible to integrate functions from a wide range of vehicle areas such as driving safety or entertainment. The aim is to offer vehicle manufacturers the greatest possible flexibility and modularity for designing vehicle architectures with minimum complexity. Continental thus continues to adapt to the changing requirements and expectations of the market and its stakeholders, developing holistic products and integrating them into new central vehicle architectures.
However, the transformation is not only changing the technology and the product portfolio but is also creating new value streams. These drive new processes and business models and establish new forms of collaboration - not only between suppliers and vehicle manufacturers, but also between vehicle buyers or users and manufacturers. Continental's customers and suppliers are increasingly becoming partners with whom the company is taking the next step into the digital age of mobility.