Technology company Continental has concluded the acquisition of Kathrein Automotive GmbH after antitrust authorities officially approved the transaction. Incorporating the automotive division of Rosenheim-based antenna and satellite technology manufacturer Kathrein, is a move that will give Continental an important key segment to add to its wealth of expertise. Intelligent vehicle antennas are the starting point for future-proof connectivity concepts in the vehicle interior and beyond.
Potential applications range from remote access keys and navigation applications through to telematics solutions. A connected vehicle can contain over 22 installed antennas. Backed by Kathrein Automotive’s expertise, Continental can offer a broad portfolio ranging from rod antennas to the intelligent antenna module. The core functions of the intelligent antenna module include the integration of various V2X technologies, such as the global 5G hybrid V2X solution, which enables communication via the cellular network as well as rapid, reliable direct data transfer. Continental recently won its first customer project for this flexible 5G hybrid platform.
“I’m absolutely delighted to have the entire workforce of Kathrein Automotive on board. The more than 1,000 new colleagues we have gained are an invaluable pool of experience and expertise in the field of vehicle connectivity,” said Johann Hiebl, head of the Body & Security and Infotainment & Connectivity business units, Continental. Acquiring Kathrein Automotive will allow Continental to deepen the level of co-operation within its cross-divisional R&D teams. “We will take immediate steps to work even harder on driving forward the development of high-performance connectivity solutions for intelligent mobility,” Hiebl said.
Continental is incorporating all Kathrein Automotive employees and all eight locations in Brazil, China, Germany, Mexico, Portugal and the USA. The two parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price.
Continental’s decision to acquire the specialist and manufacturer of vehicle transmitter and receiver systems has put it in a prime position in the flourishing vehicle antenna market. Forecasts by analysts such as Radiant Insights indicate that this market will grow by around 6.5 per cent per year between now and 2022. The incorporation of Kathrein’s expertise also constitutes a systematic development of what has so far proved to be a successful development partnership.
Continental and Kathrein have already brought two connectivity solutions to market together: the intelligent antenna module and the multifunctional smart device terminal. The module replaces the single antennas that have been scattered around vehicles by combining the antennas and the accompanying electronics into one hardware module. This not only makes wiring more straightforward and reduces installation space, but also improves signal quality at the same time. Furthermore, the multifunctional smart device terminal allows drivers to seamlessly integrate their digital lifestyles into their vehicles by easily and comprehensively connecting their mobile devices to their vehicles.
The pooling of development and manufacturing expertise is an unquestionable driving force for innovation where Continental is concerned, particularly considering the positive market performance for vehicle antennas. Johann Hiebl underscored just how important the ongoing process of optimising and enhancing existing solutions is. “We are not just sitting back and enjoying our success to date. Quite the opposite, in fact, we are continuously developing the Intelligent Antenna Module.”
Two innovations that Continental recently unveiled at CES in Las Vegas were the ultra-flat design and the much-improved performance of the latest intelligent antenna module generation. The technology’s new design is based on a method developed by Kathrein of integrating antenna structures into the module’s printed circuit board. This method renders the previous shark fin antenna design obsolete – a clear advantage when it comes to making the best possible use of installation space. The latest version of the intelligent antenna module also scores points on the performance front. It is 5G-ready and has a 4x4 multiple input/multiple output, enabling simultaneous data transfer through multiple transmitter and receiver channels. This means that the module is already delivering maximum data rates and ranges for all wireless services.