Continental celebrated its 150th anniversary on 8th October, making it one of the oldest companies in Germany.
From Hoof Buffers to High-performance Computers:150 Years of Continental
Since it was founded in 1871, Continental has developed into one of the world’s leading technology companies.
“For 150 years, we have played a decisive role in shaping and advancing mobility worldwide,” said Nikolai Setzer, CEO of Continental. “Our entire history has been marked by many challenges but – crucially – with plenty of success and sustainable growth, too. This has given us experience and kept us fresh and agile in our thinking. We are proud of our 150-year history and can look ahead with optimism and confidence because we have shown that we can transform. That’s the driving force behind our success.”
The anniversary publication ‘150 Years of Continental,’ which is available in bookstores from October 8, 2021, also illustrates the decisive role that cultural openness has played in the strategic development of the company over the decades. The authors, historian Prof. Paul Erker and Continental archivist Dr. Nils Fehlhaber, describe how numerous international and traditional companies were successfully integrated.
In its early days, Continental produced parts made of soft rubber, such as hoof buffers for horses. From the outset, the strategic focus has always been on diversity and innovation. Shortly after its foundation, the company manufactured more than 60,000 items – from the initial hoof guard and hard rubber parts for various applications to rubberised fabrics for airplanes, airships and hot air balloons. Early on, Continental brought numerous innovations to the market, such as pneumatic tyres for bicycles in 1892 and tread tyres for cars in 1904. As a result, Continental has become known worldwide in the past century.
Continental invests heavily in new technologies, employing around 17,000 software and IT specialists worldwide and operating its own software academy. “Software is the key technology of future mobility concepts based on automated and autonomous driving,” said Setzer. “At the same time, we rely on hardware and develop high-performance computers that are at the heart of modern vehicles.”
With the GreenConcept, Continental also presented a tyre for smart, sustainable vehicles at this year’s IAA Mobility based primarily on renewable, recycled materials with transparent supply chains. Sustainability is also a key driver of innovation in the highly industrial ContiTech business segment. At IAA 2021, for example, new surface solutions as well as innovative sustainable materials and technologies were presented in AmbienC3, a converted VW T2 Bus.
“Over the years, we have always focused our core technologies and further developed them in a targeted manner and adapted them to new applications,” said Setzer, describing the concept behind the company’s success. “Shaping the transformation has made us strong. It will also make us strong for the next 150 years.”
With its realigned strategy, Continental is focusing consistently and even more intensively on existing growth areas and future technologies in order to expand faster than the market.
“Today, Continental is one of the world’s most important pioneers of modern and sustainable mobility concepts in large-scale production. Our future strategy is geared toward consolidating and expanding this position. To this end, we will focus on safe, connected and convenient mobility. This future hinges on certain technologies, and hardly anyone has as much experience in this area as we do,” said Setzer, who is highly optimistic about the future, highlighting the positive mood at the anniversary celebration. “Our success in the past is the foundation for our success in the future. The main driving force behind this is passion. For 150 years, our heart has been beating for mobility – and it will continue to do so for the next 150 years.”