Continental, like its arch rival Bosch, is striving to stay relevant in a changing automotive landscape by expanding into new technology areas for hybrid and electric drive vehicles. One technology both companies are pursuing aggressively is lithium ion batteries. Continental will be supplying packs for Mercedes Benz mild hybrid vehicles beginning in 2009. Continental is also one of the development suppliers for the Chevrolet Volt program. So far Continental has partnered with cell suppliers like A123 Systems and Johnson Controls-Saft while focusing pack integration. But like Bosch, Continental wants to start manufacturing cells as well, either by doing it in-house or buying another supplier like A123. The German supplier has already purchased a stake in Enax, but that company only has capacity for small series production. At the moment lithium ion technology is changing so fast that Continental is keeping its options open but Karl-Thomas Neumann, head of powertrain and chassis operations told Reuters that at some stage the company would likely settle on a single partner or acquisition.
[Source: The Guardian]

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