© Continental

How German innovations are changing cars

Germany is the country where the automobile was born, and German companies have repeatedly taken the sector forward with groundbreaking developments. It’s the same now, in the emerging era of electro-mobility. Here are some of the key components the German automotive industry is now supplying for e-mobility, autonomous and connected driving and intelligent car-sharing.

Airbags, navigation systems, ABS – all these features are standard nowadays in our cars. And they have one thing in common: they were invented in Germany. And the spirit of invention still lives on. Through to 2025, German automotive suppliers and manufacturers are investing around EUR 150 billion in e-mobility, digitalization, new powertrains, safety systems and green technologies. “The technical developments show as much: no other country in the world does the car as comprehensively as Germany. The German automotive industry is the biggest driver of innovation in the world,” says VDA President Hildegard Müller.

The focus now is on key components for electric mobility, autonomous and connected driving and intelligent car-sharing. We present some exciting innovations for 2021 for you:

Right-turn assist for the car

At driving school, it’s a phrase we heard time and again: “Check over your shoulder!” Even if most of us have taken this on board and routinely check when turning – the new technology can help to avoid accidents. The latest radar technology, e.g., from Continental, monitors the traffic space and enables the car’s turn assist system to warn in the event of a cyclist, motorcyclist or pedestrian in the driver’s blind spot and, in an emergency, to stop the car.

© Continental

Clean air for buses

Bacteria- and virus-free air has probably never been as important as it is today. Valeo has developed a new, highly effective technology for air sterilization in public service vehicles and touring coaches. At the press of a button, the UV purifier employs UV-C rays to eliminate viruses and bacteria circulating in the air in the passenger space. Up to 95 percent of viruses and bacteria are killed off as a result – including coronavirus.

© Valeo

High-performance engine parts from the 3D printer

Manufacturing plastic parts in astonishingly accurate quality using a 3D printer is no longer a rarity. But parts for high-performance engines? Together with Porsche and Trumpf, Mahle has succeeded in manufacturing high-performance pistons in aluminum using a 3D printing process. In the test phase, these have proved outstanding, with clear improvements in the car’s performance and efficiency.

© Mahle

The smartphone key for the car

Why carry around unnecessary baggage in your pocket, when your mobile phone can replace your car keys? Several manufacturers have come together in the Car Connectivity Consortium, including BMW, VW, Hyundai and Honda along with Apple, Samsung, Panasonic and LG Electronics. They are working together on making cars “shareable” via smartphones. As the first car brand to do so, BMW – in a collaboration with Apple – is offering its customers a digital car key on the iPhone: the BMW Digital Key. This can be used to unlock the car and start the engine, and the car-owner can invite up to five friends to share in using it. The digital key is stored on the iPhone, using the highest security standards. New vehicle access systems are also being offered by other companies. Thanks to Osram Opto Semiconductors, soon it will be possible to open and start the car using iris recognition technology.


Proactive safety

BMW and ZF are developing a comprehensive intervention strategy combining active and passive safety. As a result, car safety in traffic can be increased significantly. Due to the numerous cameras and sensors fitted in modern cars, the vehicle can initiate appropriate measures even ahead of a possible crash and, for example, tighten the seat belts as a precaution. The possibilities even extend to an external airbag that minimizes the impact!

© ZF

Dual CAT efficiency

The new CSTU (Cold Start Thermal Unit) mini burner from Tenneco helps in further reducing the harmful emissions from combustion engines. It consists of a combustion chamber fitted between the turbo outlet and the catalytic converter, offset from the main exhaust gas flow, and equipped with a separate, dosed fuel feed, air feed and a controlled ignition device. This technical solution for exhaust aftertreatment can halve the “light-off” time in petrol and diesel engines, enabling higher converter efficiency and thus significantly lowered exhaust emissions.

© Tenneco

The electricity price brake

Fluctuating electricity prices and cost explosions at peak times are history. The Stuttgart-based e-mobility start-up Olmatic has developed a system with which e-car charging can be skillfully controlled, for instance in residential complexes with multiple apartment blocks, in such a way that the electricity grid is not put under extreme load if several e-cars are charging up simultaneously. That prevents current spikes and, in the worst instances, supply bottlenecks that cause the electricity prices to go up and subsequently impact electricity bills.

© Olmatic

Driving with hydrogen, at a competitive price

The Safe Light Regional Vehicle (SLRV) was developed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR). It is notable above all for its low weight and innovative design. And best of all: the fuel cell-battery hybrid runs emission-free and is set to cost just EUR 15,000.

(Stage photo: © Continental)


The IAA 2021 will focus on innovative mobility in all its forms. Intelligent traffic solutions, visionary mindsets, automobiles and entire mobility chains. Everything that will shape the mobility of tomorrow and make it an experience. Be there!