TodayApril 15, 2022

ZF, Continental CAMPING, Hella, WAPo Carchat

Good Morning Warren and Friends,

This week was a bit longer than most. I thought I was getting out of the California heat by going to Austria and Germany, only to find myself in 95 degrees and humidity (something you DCers know all too well; humidity).

Heat exhaustion is a real thing; make sure your air conditioner is working. Carry water and/or Gatorade in your car. Gatorade is known to have electrolytes which will bring you back from the brink quicker. Fortunately, I left Vienna, Austria that night to Hannover, Germany where Stretch was waiting for me with a protein/vitamin shake. I love that man so much.

There are a couple of auto suppliers that we keep track of when it comes to autonomous driving; Continental AG (yes, the tire company and so much more) and Bosch. With the purchase of TRW, and a strategic partnership with the lighting company, Hella, ZF is putting us on notice that they are an autonomous contender as well. The technology is what makes all the difference.

It’s fun to watch each company put together the bits and bytes on the road to automated driving. Continental has a partnership with Nexteer, a steering braking business. ZF is a transmission company, so they need other parts of the puzzle, such as cameras and lighting. All three companies are working with the software company, Nvidia.

ZF is well-known for their transmissions. They have been quietly amassing parts and prototypes of automated driving. A couple of my favorite bits and bytes I found from them this week was the ability for an automated car to take itself to the side of the road, or to stop, with emergency brakes on if it is in trouble. ZF uses the color blue to tell people that they are in automated driving. I am watching blue become the standard color for all vehicles when they are in automated driving mode.

Do you ever get into a car and spend five minutes trying to strap yourself into your seat belt? ZF is taking that on as well; the seat belt extends out of the seat a good three inches until you click the two parts together, then it goes back into the seat. Open your door, and the seat belt extends out of the seat again. It’s a thoughtful gesture on ZF’s part.

Speaking of thoughtful gestures, Continental showed us a two finger gesture. With two-fingers on your NAV monitor, you make an umlaut motion, and the car will take you home from your current location. Draw a heart, and it will call your wife (though I don’t believe Heidi Klum was his wife even though that was the picture that came up when I drew a heart)

Have you heard of Glamping? Luxury camping? My favorite technology from Continental was the CAMPING all-charge. I could tell you all about the all-charge EV stations that can be charged AC-DC or DC-DC or become a generator for your home, but what was really cool was the ability to energize a refrigerator, or TV, through your car. I call it CAMPING – (C)ontinental AMPING. Get it?

Let’s chat about cars

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Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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