"As a global supplier with over 100 years of automotive experience, Continental is the ideal partner for development of one of the core systems of our EV services platform," says Dr. Barak Hershkovitz, Head of Research & Development at Better Place. "We are working together to develop the most flexible, modern in-car platform. With Continental, we have a partner with the ability to supply automotive-grade, head-unit systems in volume across multiple auto OEMs and vehicle platforms for truly connected electric cars."
The Better Place contract is an important signal: "We at Continental are pleased that we are doing our part to help Better Place on its way to success," said Helmut Matschi, President of the Interior Division and member of the Executive Board of Continental AG. "The connection between the car, the Better Place network, and the driver is ensured by the head unit we will develop, and we are looking forward today to the start of series production."
Functions of the Head Unit
The multimedia and telematics unit (head unit) in EVs powered by Better Place is the central information system for the driver and, at the same time, the main interface between drivers and the Better Place network. Drivers receive precise information about battery charge status and recharge options from the head unit. The Better Place EV services platform combines infrastructure—charge spots and automated battery switch stations—to charge EVs and aggregated data to optimize charging and manage energy at scale. For trips longer than the single charge range of the battery, the head unit directs the driver to a battery switch station en route. The driver also will have access to media, information, and support services through the head unit. The car is constantly in contact with the Better Place control center via the communication interfaces of the head unit (WLAN and mobile network). To ensure the system is up to date throughout the car's life, system updates and data can be transmitted through different interfaces, such as secure Internet connection.
Vision Becomes Reality
According to Helmut Matschi, the cooperation between Better Place and Continental is a perfect match: "The Automotive Group of Continental wants to realize earth-friendly mobility that conserves resources and enables zero emissions combined with intelligent and optimally networked road traffic that transforms the car so it is Always On. The electric cars powered by Better Place are an excellent example of the unification of these two goals, so the two companies are an excellent match up."
For Continental, one thing is certain: "Even if the combustion engine is going to play a key role for individual mobility on most roads in the foreseeable future, the importance of electric vehicles will grow steadily in more and more countries. In addition to the battery technology and the electric drive, the networking of all components with each other and a user-friendly driver interface will be an important catalyst for the widespread adoption of these vehicles."
With sales exceeding €24 billion in 2008, the Continental Corp. is one of the top automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for the powertrain and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires and technical elastomers, the corporation contributes towards enhanced driving safety and protection of the global climate. Continental is also a competent partner in networked automobile communication. The corporation currently employs approximately 130,000, at nearly 190 locations, in 35 countries.
The Automotive Group is one of the leading global automotive suppliers. With its three Divisions—Chassis & Safety (€5.1 billion in sales, 27,000 employees), Powertrain (€4 billion in sales, 25,000 employees), and Interior (€5.9 million in sales, over 30,000 employees)—it reported sales of approximately €15 billion in 2008. The Automotive Group is active at over 130 locations worldwide. As a partner to the car and commercial vehicle industries, the Automotive Group develops and produces innovative products and systems for a modern automotive future in which a harmony will have been established between mobility and driving pleasure, on the one hand, and driving safety, environmental responsibility, and cost efficiency, on the other.
The Chassis & Safety division develops and produces electronic and hydraulic brake and chassis control systems, sensors, driver assistance systems, air bag control systems, washer systems, as well as electronic air suspension systems. Its core competence is the integration of active and passive driving safety in ContiGuard. The Powertrain division integrates innovative and efficient drivetrain system solutions. The product range extends from gasoline and diesel injection systems and engine management and transmission control systems, including sensors and actuators, as well as fuel-supply systems, all the way through to components and systems for hybrid drives. Information management is at the very heart of the Interior division. The range of products includes instrument clusters and multifunctional displays, control units, electronic car entry systems, tire information systems, radios, multimedia and navigation systems, climate control and actuation systems, telematics solutions, and cockpits.
About Better Place
Better Place, the leading electric vehicle services provider, is accelerating the global transition to sustainable transportation. Better Place is building the infrastructure and intelligent network to deliver a range of services to drivers, enable widespread adoption of electric vehicles, and optimize energy use. The Better Place network addresses historical limitations to adoption by providing unlimited driving range in a convenient and accessible manner. The company works with all parts of the transportation ecosystem, including automakers, battery suppliers, energy companies, and the public sector, to create a compelling solution. Based in California and privately held, Better Place has operating companies in Israel, Denmark, and Australia.