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USA: Continental Will Help Make Electric Vehicles Go Mainstream

Toyota is buying electric powertrains from Tesla for its RAV4 EV. Three years ago, it was BMW buying powertrains from AC Propulsion. What’s wrong with this picture? It’s not normal for an established automaker to source major components to unproven start-ups, but those days are over now that traditional auto suppliers have moved into electric territory.

Depending on their commitment to electric mobility, some car manufacturers may chose to do everything by themselves, like Nissan did. Or OEMs can make a joint-venture with a supplier, Smart being a good example, or buy from a well-regarded auto supplier. That’s what Renault did for its Kangoo and Fluence Z.E. models, which both use an electric motor supplied by Continental. As a leading auto supplier, Continental, often called Conti for short, is mostly known among drivers for its tires. But to auto companies, Conti builds the turbo on Ford’s latest Ecoboost engine, and it’s a world-leader in safety technologies (braking and chassis electronics). Some people may also remember that Conti had partnered with A123 Systems with the hope to provide the battery pack for the Chevrolet Volt.

Going further into electric mobility, Continental has built a concept vehicle to show its know-how to all car manufacturers the world over. This is a Renault Megane. It’s a Focus-sized vehicle, and a big seller in Europe. But this Megane doesn’t wear a Renault badge anymore. Continental has converted it to electric propulsion with all the parts in its catalog.


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