In its meeting, the Supervisory Board of Continental AG agreed to an important next phase of the strategic realignment of the mobility supplier. It supports the future organizational realignment of the business with systems for advanced driver assistance and automated driving. From January 1, 2022, the business is to be elevated to the independent “Autonomous Mobility” business area within the Automotive Technologies group sector. Its core will consist of the current Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) business unit.
“We are implementing our strategy with determination. Accordingly, we are investing in our growth areas and future technologies, seizing market opportunities, enhancing our capacity to respond and providing for greater transparency,” explained Continental CEO Nikolai Setzer. He added: “The autonomous mobility market will more than double in the next three years. Owing to the strategic significance of the necessary technologies and their promising growth prospects, we are intensifying our focus here by creating new structures to research, develop and industrialize these technologies. This also enables us to provide all of our business areas with the additional freedom to concentrate even more on their core areas.”
As part of the publication of its preliminary annual figures on March 9, 2021, the company announced that it would be spending an additional sum of around €200 million to €250 million on developing its technologies for assisted and autonomous driving this year alone. Its aim here is to fully exploit the attractive opportunities that continue to arise from the rapid development of these markets and turn them into profitable growth.
Setzer commented: “We already have a strong position in this area. We are expanding this position extensively, giving our activities in the area a big boost and gaining momentum as a top team in the autonomous mobility market. At the same time, we are opening ourselves up even more to potential large-scale cooperation with technology partners and start-up companies. After all, our goal is and will continue to be global technology leadership when it comes to assisted and automated driving.”
In the years 2018 to 2020 alone, Continental received orders in this area totaling more than €9 billion from customers worldwide. The mobility supplier intends to increase this amount substantially, as the potential scope of supply will go up in value many times over in the coming years as the degree of vehicle automation grows.
“It is software that will clearly make the difference in the future. Its development and industrialization require that we have extremely short response times and the utmost flexibility as well as agile, interdisciplinary cooperation within our organization and with our external partners in all regions,” Setzer explained.
Green light for the spin-off of Vitesco Technologies
The Supervisory Board approved the planned spin-off and subsequent stock market listing of Vitesco Technologies. Subject to the approval of the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting on April 29, 2021, the company continues to strive for the spin-off of the powertrain business in the second half of 2021.
“Today we gave the green light to continue proceedings aimed at establishing the entrepreneurial independence of Vitesco Technologies. If the shareholders agree, we will turn one global champion into two in the future – each in their own area. Vitesco Technologies is a trailblazer in the field of powertrain electrification, and Continental is a pioneer for connected, safe and sustainable mobility. With this step, both technology companies will be able to achieve their full potential,” said Prof. Wolfgang Reitzle, chairman of the Supervisory Board, commenting on the board’s resolution.
Change to the Executive Board: Philip Nelles to succeed Hans-Jürgen Duensing
In a further resolution, the Supervisory Board appointed Philip Nelles (46), head of the Mobile Fluid Systems business unit in the ContiTech business area, to the Executive Board of Continental AG, effective June 1, 2021. He will be responsible for the ContiTech business area, succeeding Hans-Jürgen Duensing (62), whose appointment will end prematurely on May 31, 2021, for personal reasons at his own request after more than 35 years at the company. He has been a member of the Executive Board since May 1, 2015. His Executive Board appointment had been extended in September 2017 until the end of April 2023.
“We are pleased to hand over the responsibility for our ContiTech business area to Philip Nelles, an experienced executive with long-standing success in our company. My colleagues on the Supervisory Board and I wish him all the best and much success in his new duties,” said Reitzle, adding: “At the same time, we would like to express our deep gratitude to his predecessor Hans-Jürgen Duensing for his many years of valuable service and his contribution to Continental’s value creation. We regret his departure from the company, as he consistently displayed outstanding expertise, commitment, integrity and loyalty in all of his various managerial positions. We are losing an impressive manager who always had the overall success of Continental firmly in mind.”
ContiTech is one of the world’s leading industrial specialists in intelligent, high-performance plastic and rubber solutions. “In the past years, Hans-Jürgen Duensing accelerated and expanded the transformation of this business area with a high level of concentration, aligning it on a course of higher profitable growth. By doing so, he played a decisive role in making Continental one of the winners of the current industrial transformation,” said Setzer of Duensing’s achievements.
“In the past six years, Hans-Jürgen Duensing intensified the digitalization of products and the expansion of the business with services for various industries, in addition to the integration of companies that had been acquired. On behalf of the entire Executive Board team, I thank him for his successful work and wish him all the best for the future,” Setzer said, adding: “For the future viability of an organization, it is crucial that it has a systematic succession and development plan for its executives. That is why I am so pleased that Philip Nelles is joining our ranks on the Executive Board. He knows our ContiTech business inside and out, thanks to his own experience from various standpoints since starting his career. On behalf of our entire Executive Board team, I wish him the best of success.”
After graduating with an engineering management degree in 2000, Philip Nelles began his career at Continental as a trainee in the current ContiTech business area, where he held various management positions in the Mobile Fluid Systems business unit in Germany, Sweden and Hungary until the end of 2009. From 2010 to 2015, he headed the global Automotive Original Equipment segment in ContiTech’s Power Transmission Group business unit. From mid-2015 to 2018, he was in charge of this business unit, before assuming responsibility for the Mobile Fluid Systems business unit within ContiTech. Philip Nelles is married and has four children.