The factory will start production in the second half of 2019
Automotive supplier Continental AG announced on Friday the ground breaking of their new factory in Kaunas, Lithuania. This factory will start producing electronic components for the European market in the second half of 2019, including units for Continental’s Intelligent Glass Control system used to control Research Frontiers’ SPD-SmartGlass.
Research Frontiers patented SPD-Smart light-control film technology allows users to instantly, precisely and uniformly control the shading of glass or plastic products, either manually or automatically. Products using Research Frontiers’ smart glass technology are being used in tens of thousands of cars, aircraft, yachts, trains, homes, offices, museums and other buildings.
Continental indicated that its Intelligent Glass Control system used to control SPD-SmartGlass increases passenger comfort and lowers CO2 emissions by keeping the interior of the vehicle cooler. As a result, smaller, more efficient and lighter air conditioning units could be used. Calculations showed a reduction in CO2 emissions of four grams per kilometre. Current regulations coming into effect in Europe regarding C02 emissions penalize auto makers for not meeting CO2/km emissions targets, and a four gram/km CO2 reduction would result in avoiding 380 EUR (446 USD) per car in penalties.
Continental estimates that their Intelligent Glass Control system can increase the driving range of electric vehicles by 5.5 percent. When compared to conventional automotive glass, Mercedes-Benz reported that the use of SPD-SmartGlass significantly reduces the temperature inside the vehicle by up to 18 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius.
Continental also highlighted the safety benefits of its Intelligent Glass Control system in typical driving situations such as when the sun is low on the horizon. Normally the driver has to remove their hand from the steering wheel in order to manually lower the sun visor, resulting in both impaired visibility and a brief decrease in control of the vehicle. Continental’s Intelligent Glass Control system can detect this and instantly darken the tint of the glass in the car automatically.
Continental’s Intelligent Glass Control system also enhances security and privacy. For example, when the vehicle is parked, the windows darken automatically so the inside of the vehicle cannot be seen from the outside. This also protects the interior of vehicles and their occupants from heat, light and harmful UV radiation.
The new state of the art factory will initially cover 22 thousand square metres, with room for expansion, and is expected to employ over 1,000 people. The energy efficiency of the new factory site has been verified by the internationally recognized LEED Gold certification for sustainability. Continental indicated that it will be investing 95 million EUR (111 million USD) over the next five years.