Continental CEO Dr. Elmar Degenhart:
We are in the process of a profound transformation. It influences every aspect of our business: products, processes, business models and structures. This presents us with major challenges, but mostly, great opportunities.
A Society in Flux
Environmental organizations and the climate change movement “Fridays for Future” have led to a shift in thinking about mobility in our society. Every Friday, people all over the world are on the streets, protesting for effective climate protection. The issue poses great challenges for society: While mobility is indispensable for economic development and social life, it also needs to become more sustainable, safer and more comfortable.
Alternatives are already in vogue: Car sharing is booming, especially in major cities. And "Car to Share” schemes are on the rise in rural areas too. In station-based car-sharing, customers pick up a vehicle at a station in their vicinity and return it to the same station after their journey. In “Free-Floating” schemes, the car can be left at the destination, where the next customer can then locate it via a cell phone. At the beginning of this year, the total number of car-sharing vehicles in Germany came to 25,400, which is an increase of more than 25 percent compared to the previous year. At present, around 2.3 million customers are registered with the currently 226 providers, with a total of 45 new providers added over the past year. Sharing models are available not only for cars, but also for bicycles, e-bikes, electric scooters and scooters. As a result, urban traffic now offers a colorful range of mobility options for every need.
Proponents hope that this development will have a significant positive impact on the environment and traffic, even though electric vehicles in car-sharing fleets are still the exception at present. The breakthrough, according to traffic experts, will only come with the advent of autonomous cars. After all, these could be even more efficient and environmentally friendly, as well as more profitable.
The Future of Mobility: A Free Ride for the CUbE
The first autonomous shuttle buses with electric drives are already on the road, although usually only in delimited areas such as airports or on company premises. But the technology for driverless taxis is on the rise: With the development platform known as CUbE (Continental Urban mobility Experience), Continental is currently testing the technology for future robo-taxis. The aim is to research the driverless transportation of people. Just as you do for a normal taxi, you simply order a CUbE by using an app. Customers can reserve a seat. While you are waiting, you can track the shuttle's journey to you on your smartphone. A personalized welcome message will then greet you when the shuttle arrives – so far, so good. The difference between this and a classic taxi is, of course, that the autonomous taxi will roll up without a driver, and it's completely electric. Also on board: Continental Technology, which is already in use in pilot projects. The major advantage of autonomous shuttle vehicles is that they are constantly on the road and therefore don't need a parking space – a solution for the growing parking problem in cities.
Large numbers of these autonomous vehicles could change road traffic in the long term, making it much more flowing, more environmentally friendly, more efficient and, most importantly, safer in the future. For Dr. Andree Hohm, head of the self-driving car project at Continental, the advantages are obvious: “It is clearly more intelligent to operate driverless vehicles as continuously as possible instead of countless private cars, which, on average, are parked for 23 hours a day, taking up space which could be used for parks and playgrounds, for example.”
New Approaches to Mobility
To work, to the gym, to the shops, to the cinema, to friends – we are constantly on the move. Individual mobility is a basic human need. What is more, we often don't have a choice, having a job often involves being mobile and flexible. In rural areas, smaller supermarkets continue to close and for many people large supermarkets can only be reached by being mobile. Using a car is often our first choice, although a change in our mindset is currently taking place in society. As a result, car traffic is becoming less and less important in the mobility of the future. Not only bicycle traffic and sharing models are increasing rapidly, but also the use of public transport. Researchers expect fewer and fewer routes to be covered by cars in the future. The share of car driving in major cities is set to fall from 51 to 46 percent, while bicycle use is expected to increase by 18 percent and public transport by around six percent. Commuters, in particular, are currently looking for alternatives.
However, poor connectivity or excessively high ticket prices prevent many people from using public transport more extensively. This means that currently 43 percent of public transport users want to switch to a different form of transport. The Global Mobility Index shows how densely a city’s public transport network is developed and how much public transport costs. Berlin is very far ahead – people have fewer cars than in other major cities and use public transport. Nevertheless, we still need to consider how to make public transport even more attractive and appealing worldwide. Local, regional and national needs for individual mobility are very different.
Transformation means change. The process of changing from our current status to our desired status in the future is not primarily a question of exchanging or replacing existing modes of working, but of responding to current economic and social dynamics.
The word "transformation" comes from the Latin “transformare” (to shape), and above all, is about constantly evolving, responding to opportunities and risks and taking new paths.
Please finde here the complete article on the topic of transformation from Continental Magazine.