Apple entering the electric-car race could be a boon to Continental's Vitesco Technologies powertrain unit as it attempts a wrenching transition away from internal combustion engines.
Reports that Apple is working on a self-driving EV have ignited speculation about how the technology giant would pursue such a plan. Talks with automakers including Hyundai Motor Group have failed, perhaps due to reluctance to aid a disruptive new rival. But for suppliers eager to unlock fresh revenue streams, it would be much-needed business.
"An Apple car would certainly be an exciting development," Vitesco CEO Andreas Wolf said in an interview. "The more EVs there are, the better."
Soon-to-be spun-off Vitesco cannot afford to be picky. Suppliers are under pressure as the industry shifts toward battery-powered vehicles, which require fewer parts than gasoline and diesel-powered cars.
Volkswagen Group last week became Germany's most valuable company after rapid-fire announcements on how it wants to supplant Tesla as the global electric leader. BMW shares surged after the manufacturer said it expects EVs to account for about half of sales by 2030.
The bolder plans suggest the end of the combustion engine is nearing. Vitesco identified sales worth 2.5 billion euros -- based on 2018 revenue -- linked to the making of parts like turbochargers and injectors that it plans to exit or discontinue. Finding buyers for these assets will be difficult, Wolf said ahead of a briefing with investors on Thursday.
Vitesco seeks to shift about a third of its sales into components for so-called mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids and full-electric cars over the next three to five years, the CEO said. Many of its existing products, like engine controls, can also be deployed in EVs, he said."No matter what's coming, we have the full range of hybrid and EV products, and that's our great advantage," Wolf said. "We don't focus on just one specific technology, but we cover all options."