The company will manufacture the sensors at its plant in Seguin, Texas. For the time being, one production line will be sufficient, but the company already is establishing further production lines at that plant. "Production in the USA brings us closer to our American customers", said Karlheinz Haupt who oversees Continental's driver assistance business. "For us, the US market is a very significant one".
Short-range radar sensors are used for blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert (RTCA) applications within Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). RTCA sensors detect cross-traffic when backing up from a parking gap and warn drivers of a potential collision. Radar sensors are also regarded as a key technology to realise the 'Vision Zero' of entirely accident-free driving, to be implemented by the automotive industry over the decade ahead.
The short-range radar sensors Continental will manufacture in the US are used exclusively for the kind of applications mentioned above. Another type of radar sensors is used in adaptive cruise control applications. This type however features a longer range since it needs to detect vehicles at bigger distances.
With its move, Continental also challenges competitors such as Bosch and TRW. By 2016, Continental plans to produce 3 million short-range radar sensors in Seguin alone. Bosch is currently stepping up its manufacturing capacities. In 2013, the company celebrated the production of the millionth sensor - already by 2016 it plans to increase this figure tenfold. The steep increase is owed in part to stricter safety criteria - the Euro NCAP safety assessment group makes radar-based driver assistance systems mandatory for any car to win their highest five stars safety rating, and its US counterpart is no less demanding.