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Continental Ups the Autonomous Car Ante

Supplier hires Google exec for smart car company.

by on Aug.18, 2014

Continental hired former Google exec, Seval Oz, to oversee its new intelligent transportation systems company in Silicon Valley.

The race is on to be first to market with a fully autonomous vehicle. Right now, automakers like Nissan, General Motors and Mercedes-Benz are being challenged by high-tech upstart Google, which plans to launch a fleet of autonomous prototypes later this year.

One of the key figures in Google’s self driving program has been poached by German auto supplier, which itself hopes to become a leader in autonomous technology. German auto supplier Continental is going all in on intelligent driving systems by forming a new company, Continental Intelligent Transportation Systems LLC, located in Silicon Valley.

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Continental, which supplies driver assistance technology, such as blind-spot detection, hired Seval Oz to be CEO of the new company. Oz previously served as Senior Business Development manager at Google, where she was integral in the development of the self-driving car. (more…)

Steering Out of Trouble

With market showing signs of recovery, Continental rolling out new safety systems, including Emergency Steer Assist.

by on Jun.17, 2010

Continental's next-generation safety technology, ESA, could help you steer out of trouble.

The US auto market is finally bouncing back – at least in the eyes of Samir Salman, CEO of Continental’s North American Automotive operations.  And that could be good news for suppliers hoping to find a market for next-generation safety technology, he says.

“We initially thought the rebound that we’re seeing now might have taken three to four years,” Salman said, “but the current 11.5-million unit production level is encouraging.”

While discussing new technologies that Continental has ready for production, Salman said that he expects the rebound to continue into 2011 with 12.5 – 13 million units produced.

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“Compared to 2009 sales of 8.5 million, things are looking pretty good, but we’ve got a long way to go. We expect that sustainable sales of 15 – 16 million units are possible in the next three to five years.”

TheDetroitBureau.com had the opportunity to speak with Salman as Continental showed American and European journalists new safety-related products from three of the supplier’s divisions; Chassis and Safety, Powertrain and Interior. (Continental’s tire operations, the highest-grossing in the group, were not included.)

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Chrysler Picks Future Suppliers

Bankruptcy Court Filing lists some winners and losers.

by on May.15, 2009

Scott Garberding, Chrysler LLC

Chrysler will continue to work with those suppliers who wish to become part of the new enterprise.

Chrysler LLC today announced this morning that it would begin the process of assigning the “overwhelming majority” of the company’s supplier contracts to the new company established in with Fiat SpA once an asset sale is completed as it emerges from bankruptcy. Some of the winners are Alcoa, Continental, Delphi, Johnson Controls, Magna International and Penske Corporation.

Chrysler has also started a process by which suppliers may be paid pre-bankruptcy accounts receivable. Chrysler claims that the amount it is willing to pay is higher than those normally assigned during a bankruptcy process, a contentious assertion no doubt with some suppliers.

About 40% of what is owed is offered immediately, with the balance to be assumed by the new company and paid back over time. Whether its ailing suppliers can last that long is an open question. Roughly 20% of Chrysler suppliers were in the “high risk” or “risk” categories Chrysler uses to assess their financial health, and that was before all of its plants were shut down last month. Typically it takes Chrysler 45 days to pay a supplier after it has received the parts.

The bankruptcy continues to have potential dire consequences for Ford Motor and General Motors since 96 of Chrysler’stop 100 suppliers also supply both of those loss-making companies.

Chrysler will mail letters to approximately 1,200 of its suppliers setting forth the amounts that Chrysler has determined will be required to “cure” all contracts to be assumed and assigned to the new company.

It appears Chrysler will attempt to not negotiate the amounts that it will pay. Some struggling suppliers may have little bargaining power to ask for more.

Suppliers have ten days to dispute the Chrysler amount, and a court hearing is scheduled for June 4th to resolve differences.

Some of Chrysler’s biggest creditors were not on the list in the court filing, which could mean that they will not be part of the supply chain for the new company.

However, the “list is not a complete or final listing of suppliers” for the new company. “Chrysler will continue to work with those suppliers who wish to become part of the new enterprise,” Chrysler said.    (more…)

A Geneva Surprise From Bentley

New model will be marque's fastest, most powerful production car ever.

by on Jan.28, 2009

Bentley's Geneva surprise

Bentley's Geneva surprise

Take a close look at this picture. It’s all you’re going to get to see, at least for the next five weeks, of the new supercar that Bentley plans to unveil at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

What little the automaker is revealing, for now, is that the new model will be “very much the extreme Bentley,” and will rank as the fastest, most powerful production car the British luxury marque has ever brought to market.

A little short of a year ago, and also in Geneva, Bentley sketched out plans to go “green,” Bentley CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen noting, at the time, that, “the security of our fuel supply and climate change.” According to Paefgen, the amount of CO2, the prime culprit in global warming, emitted by Bentley products by will be reduced “at least 15 percent” by 2012.

How to deliver more power and performance – and less CO2? Maybe it’ll become more apparent when we see the new Bentley in person, as the 2009 Swiss show. For the moment, we’ll have to settle for the suggestion that the car we’re seeing – likely the replacement for the current Continental line – will be capable of running on biofuel.

Bentley, we should add, could use a bit of a boost, whatever powers it. It’s long been conventional wisdom, in the auto industry, that luxury products, especially in the Bentley range, are immune from recession. The current downturn has proven that wrong, with the British maker showing losses in line with more mainstream brands. But so far, we’ve also been told, Volkswagen AG’s top-line brand has been able to keep its operations in the black.