Future technology is going revolutionise the way we go motoring. You might think this is all the work of the car companies. While some of it is, much of it is down to the firms that quietly supply tech to the car makers, companies such as Continental.

The German automotive giant provides technology or equipment in one form or another to one in two of all new cars sold. As one of the secret giants of the automotive world it has global sales worth €40.5billion (£35.6bn) and employs around a quarter of a million people worldwide. We’ve been given a sneak preview of some of the future technology it’s working on and in some cases has almost ready for production. This is the equipment that could change how we drive.

Sound system with no speakers

How it works

Continental’s boffins have spent years working out how to make our cars quieter by engineering the sound out of vehicles. Then they had a Eureka moment. They realised they could use their knowledge to engineer sound back in. To do this they employ what they call actuators or ‘exciters’ in various parts of the car such as the dashboard, door panels, roof lining and seats. These exciters vibrate the various parts they’re attached to in the same way that speakers do.

What it means

You get a fantastic all-encompassing sound – in some cases better than traditional premium quality speakers – as well as a huge weight saving. And less weight means lower fuel consumption.

Charging induction plates

Future technology

How it works

Smartphone owners who simply pop their phone on a charging plate rather than having to mess about with cables and plugs will know all about the benefits of induction charging. But what about if you could do it with your electric car? Continental has worked out a way. A picture on the car’s screen shows you how to locate the car above the plate, which is embedded in the road. Park above it and charge flows automatically and invisibly into the car’s battery.

What it means

Electric cars will become ever easier to use. No cables trailing across the drive or forgetting to plug them in. It could prove to be the most significant improvement to the infrastructure behind the uptake of electric cars.

Connected cars

How it works

The car is connected to the internet. Some cars already are and they can even inform dealers remotely about technical problems they’re experiencing. Soon cars will be able to have software updates over the internet. Going forwards, cars will be connected to each other. This means if one car has a crash, all the other vehicles nearby will be warned in real time to avoid the ensuing traffic jam.

What it means

Motoring will become much safer. In the US, they reckon connected cars would prevent around 600,000 crashes a year. And it will be much more convenient for owners. No more visits to the garage to have latest versions of software installed. However, there have been warnings over security vulnerabilities and industry leaders admit that a captive audience of people in the car will have a far greater value than current cars, in terms of marketing and services.

Trained parking

How it works

Using the onboard cameras and radar that are now fitted to increasing numbers of cars, a short route (currently 80m) can be ‘learnt’ by the car. The car will then be able to drive this without any input from the driver.

What it means

You get home from work after doing the shopping. You unload the bags from the boot and swipe an app on your smartphone that tells the car to park itself. Rather like a dog obediently going to its bed, the car drives itself into the garage and closes itself down while you're free to put the shopping away. In the morning, you use the smartphone app again to summon the car to wait by the front door.

New concept for braking

Future technology

How it works

Imagine a wheel with an outer part that the tyre’s mounted on and an inner part that carries the brake disc. This future technology enables a much larger brake disc for more braking power. It’s also much more efficient at harvesting energy during braking. Electric and hybrid cars use this technology to help keep their batteries charged.

What it means

The whole assembly is lighter than the traditional approach of using individual items for the tyre, wheel and brake parts. As the brake disc is inside the wheel, it’s not subjected to the same kind of wear that brake discs currently are. And that means it’ll last longer and cost less to maintain.


That's in the future. Find a garage here to service your car now