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Automated cars could be the norm, Continental executive says


By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com
Published Feb. 7, 2013

Cars — in the not so far away future — could essentially drive themselves, according to a Continental Tire the Americas LLC executive speaking at the S.C. Automotive Summit in Greenville Thursday.

“You could get into your car and call, text, get on the Internet and work, and the car will drive for you. This is where the technology is going,” said Tim Rogers, the finance vice president at Continental, a German automotive supplier that’s building a tire plant in Sumter. “This is not just what Continental believes, but what the automotive industry believes.”

Coverage of S.C. Automotive Summit

Automotive companies are already in the field of developing automated cars. For example, Rogers said Continental has a license for a car in Nevada that is fully automated and can drive itself.

Audi was the first automaker to operate self-driving vehicles on public roads in Nevada, with Google and Continental following suit, according to Forbes.

The future automotive trends are leaning toward more intelligent and automated driving, including parking assists, traffic jam assists, cruise assists and rear-end collision avoidance braking, among others technologies.

An automated car could be equipped with infrared sensors that could identify an object in a car’s path, as well as when the driver is texting, and work to either alert the driver to the object or brake the car for the driver, Rogers said.

In a survey Rogers shared with the summit attendees, demographics show that the 18- to 25-year-old age group is most likely to buy fully automated cars.

“By 2025, they’ll be the ones buying these really expensive cars,” Rogers said. “They are going to come to expect this technology. They won’t know what a car is without it, and this technology might be the standard by then.”

Continental in S.C.
As for Continental’s 1 million-square-foot tire facility in Sumter, construction remains on schedule. Production of 800,000 units is set to begin in 2014.

Initial plans call for 4.65 million tires to be produced annually by 2017, Rogers said, with eventual production ramping up to 8 million tires produced a year by 2021.

By that time, when phase I and phase II are complete, employment should hit 1,600.

The S.C. Automotive Summit is an educational and networking event that is designed to benefit automotive manufacturers and suppliers.

Subscribe to GSA Business to read the full coverage of the summit in the Feb. 25 issue of GSA Business’ biweekly business journal.


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