TU talks to Brian Droessler, VP of strategy and portfolio for Continental’s Infotainment & Connectivity Business Unit

TU talks to Brian Droessler, VP of strategy and portfolio for Continental’s Infotainment & Connectivity Business Unit

What role does the Infotainment & Connectivity Business Unit play within Continental?

The Infotainment & Connectivity Business Unit is part of Continental’s Interior Division. The Division, with approximately €4.4 billion in sales in 2009 and 27,000 employees, has more than 100 years of experience partnering with its customers, and non-traditional automotive suppliers, to design intelligent electronics that will enable a car and its users to be “always on”. The Division is known as “information management specialists” and designs products that provide consumers with the ability to enter and start their cars at the push of a button and connect to the outside world to access the information and content they need, all while enhancing driver focus through intuitive human machine interfaces (HMIs).

How do you differentiate your offerings from your competitors?

Continental is one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world and its Interior Division leads the worldwide market in instrumentation, telematics systems, access systems, secondary displays and tire pressure monitoring systems. Our system integration expertise is a key differentiator. We draw from our broad technology experience and product portfolio to integrate solutions that create differentiating value for our customers. The Division’s unique selling point, and the reason it holds its position, is its focus on informing drivers and passengers better than our competition, connecting them – all at lower costs.

What partnerships are you currently forging?

To drive the future of mobility, no one company can go it alone. Continental has formed an ecosystem of partners and forged a variety of technology alliances to help make driving even more comfortable, safer, and environmentally friendly.

For instance, at Telematics Update Detroit 2009, Continental introduced the industry to AutoLinQ™. This next generation in-vehicle infotainment and connectivity solution enables drivers and passengers to personalize their cars by safely downloading applications to the vehicle.

Continental has held positive discussions with a variety of companies within the “Internet” value chain. And, to move the product strategy forward, Continental also has forged a relationship with Deutsche Telekom. This alliance creates the end-to-end system needed to bring applications to the car.

The demonstration vehicle that Continental developed with Deutsche Telekom is a clear example of how the car of the future will be connected to the cloud—and the cloud will be connected to the car. Intuitively, the vehicle itself and the vehicle owners are able to connect to what matters in their lives.

In addition, when I look at the sponsors of Telematics Update Detroit 2010, it’s safe to say that Continental is working and has partnerships with the majority of companies in attendance.

Which trends will impact the industry the most in the coming years and why?

I continue to believe that the digital lifestyles we are leading, combined with vehicle safety trends, will continue to transform in-vehicle electronic architectures and evolve the cars we drive into the most reliable high-tech electronics device we own.

Many of the technologies and trends that are appearing in consumer culture will impact the content, services, features – and more importantly, the interior design – of cars rolling off the production line in the 2010–2015 timeframe.

Four trends Continental’s Interior Division are focused on are:

Sustainability: Continental’s Interior Division continues to work with partners, like Better Place, to provide systems that help connect cars and help reduce fuel consumption and emissions. The company also is working on fuel-saving projects like eHorizon in its pursuit of zero emissions. (Click here to listen to a podcast preview of Better Place’s Jeff Curry’s presentation at the upcoming 10th annual Telematics Detroit conference.)

Always on: The company is focused on connecting the car so it is always on. Trends towards electric vehicle, smart grid technology, smart phone integration, eCall, and car-to-car show us that cars will have a connection to the outside world. With this connection, cars can now host a variety of applications and services that give meaningful data to the driver.

Safety: Enhancing vehicle safety by combining connectivity systems with active and passive safety systems to help reduce traffic congestion and accidents. We are working towards a vision of zero vehicle crashes and injuries in the future.

Globalization: Bringing advanced technologies to emerging and developed markets and, in North America, as consumers begin to shift to smaller cars, working to equip vehicles with advanced technologies, all at an affordable price.

Continental is an integral part of our upcoming Telematics Detroit 2010 conference. Could you tell us what key topics you will discuss with the industry at the show?

Continental is, once again, a proud sponsor of Telematics Update Detroit. We continue to participate in the event because we believe it is an exciting time for the industry and that we have an opportunity to change the way people drive. Today, our technologies connect cars and the people who drive them to the world in new and exciting ways. And, as we move forward, we want to work with our partners and other telematics industry leaders to find a new way forward. I’d like to personally invite Telematics Update Detroit attendees to Continental’s booth so we can discuss how we might work together to continue driving this dynamic marketplace forward. In addition, please come listen to my colleagues and I speak during the keynote and panel discussions!

Which applications, offerings or cars are on your current wish list?

Because I spend my time focusing on advanced technologies, my wish list usually stretches far into the future. However, throughout each year, I see real examples of how our vision of an “always on” vehicle is evolving. This year, I am watching two areas very closely.

First, I enjoy seeing continued proof that flexible applications and services are coming to the vehicle. Whether this is done through the portable phone or a built-in connection, it shows that consumers desire driving-relevant information provided by telematics systems. Two of our customers have recently announced initiatives that I look forward to: GM/Onstar rolling out the Chevy Volt phone application to monitor vehicle status and Ford rolling out its application API along with Pandora and other applications.

Second, the spread of connectivity into cars is reaching other regions of the world. This is great news for all of us in the industry. Stolen vehicle tracking, poised to launch this year in Brazil, will bring new business and features in the future. Full featured telematics launching in China, and its potential growth in new areas like Russia, is another proof point that our future cars will truly be “always on”.

Telematics Update’s 10th AnnualTelematics Detroit Conference &Exhibition will take place onJune 8 & 9 atThe Rock Financial Showplace in Novi, MI, USA. Click here to visit the event website.

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