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Continental Automotive India showcased its technologies through an event held in Bangalore today. The event named Tech Tatva is held annually at Continental's campus at Electronic City with the intention of showcasing the R&D being done across the business unit.
Continental is one of the world's leading automotive component suppliers involved in manufacturing of automotive components, developing technologies for future mobility including automated driving and electric vehicles. Continental's reach among the masses is to the extent that almost all cars out on the road would have at least one component manufactured by Continental.
The German marque is essentially focused on the development and supply of electrical components and software systems as well. Major automotive brands across the world rely on Continental for their reliable ECUs, turbochargers, fuel-injection systems, electronic hardware, automotive computing systems, etc.
At Tech Tatva, Continental displayed all of their technology currently being used in the market as well as those that are yet to be launched. This meant, the best automotive technologies for internal combustion engine as well as for electric vehicles were under one roof.
Technologies developed by the Vehicle Dynamics team, the ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) team, TCI & SWA team, Body team and even Elektrobit were displayed. Elektrobit is a full-owned subsidiary of Continental AG and deals with embedded and connected software products for the automotive industry.
Elektrobit had displayed its software integration prowess with several manufacturers integrating their systems. Elektrobit has worked with several major manufacturers. The software integration in Ford's SYNC3 infotainment system was done by Elektrobit and also on display was the next-gen version of the system called the SYNC4.
The VED (Vehicle Dynamics) section of Tech Tatva had simulations of various electronics that include traction control, ABS, brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, etc. A simulator was placed to demo the systems to the visitors.
Yet another simulator displayed an electronics system that enables vehicles to communicate with each other and when a dangerous situation is approached, the warning light flashes on the dashboard alerting drivers of both vehicles of the impending danger.
Continental has also developed an airbag deployment system that uses special cameras and software. The camera monitors the occupants of the car and the position of their limbs. Upon sensing imminent collision, the system deploys airbags based on the position of the occupants' limbs, thereby reducing damage to the body from airbag explosions. The most interesting tech on display though, was the Continental Electric Scooter prototype.
Continental Electric Scooter Prototype
The Continental Electric Scooter prototype isn't new to the EV landscape of India. We caught a glimpse of it when it was displayed at the Future Mobility Show 2019. However, we didn't dig into it back then but we took a detailed look at it at tech Tatva.
The test-bed being used by Continental is a Vespa GTX 150 that is currently unavailable in India. However, the Italian scooter manufacturer doesn't really have a role to play in the development of the electric scooter. It is just a test-bed on which Continental is evaluating its EV drivetrain.
The drivetrain itself is not entirely new but has been assembled from various bits and pieces that already existed in various branches of the company. The propulsion system is 48V water-cooled induction machine with integrated inverter. It has a max power of 9.6kW, and a max speed of 18,000rpm with battery of 48V Li-Ion. The motor itself for example was taken from the hybrid drivetrain developed for passenger cars. So was the battery unit. The belt used to connect the motor to the wheel is made of carbon fibre.
The Vespa GTX 150 sold in European markets is liquid-cooled and Continental custom-fabricated a couple of nozzles and connected it to the electric drivetrain. The result of all this was a unique setup, the likes of which have not been seen in India yet.
We took it for a short spin around the very building in Electronic City that Continental India is based out of. The one aspect that was really surprising was the acceleration. It was quicker than all of the other electric scooters in India, including the Ather 450. 60km/h came up in no time at all and then we ran out of space.
However, the pace at which the scooter touched 60km/h was incredible and we had no doubts about it crossing 85km/h in a jiffy. This is despite it being extremely heavy as the Vespa GTX 150 is a heavy scooter in itself and then there was the motor and battery that was developed for passenger cars weighing it down further.
However, as said earlier this was just a test-bed to display Continental's technologies to the various manufacturers interested in producing an electric scooter. So there were disadvantages like a 20-kilometre range on full charge, absolutely no underseat storage, etc. If Continental could figure out a way to extract so much performance while providing greater range, we have a winner on our hands.
Thoughts On Continental Automotive Technologies Display
There is a reason for Continental to be counted amongst the top automotive suppliers. Continental India does extensive research under its 5 key divisions - Chassis & Safety, Powertrain, Interior, Tires & ContiTech. Going by the technologies displayed, it is easy to spot that the brand is ready for the future, be it the upcoming safety regulations, BS-VI emissions or even the electric vehicle wave.