"Where I think Conti has the biggest chance to succeed is software integration," Schneider said. "I think all the German carmakers are trying to get enough software engineers on board. There's just a lack of people with good programming skills. They're just not finding people in Germany."
Since Continental has the staff, it is likely that automakers will turn to it for support, he said.
"The carmakers want to do it themselves, but at some moment they need to recognize that they can only achieve that with the help of suppliers, and Continental has got one of the [largest] software engineer" bodies in the industry, he said.
Like one of its main competitors, Robert Bosch, Continental is betting heavily on in-vehicle computers that can control electronic and software functions inside the car.
In 2020, Continental began supplying the computing systems to Volkswagen for its ID3 and ID4 electric vehicles. The supplier said that just a "handful" of those computers can manage vehicle functions in the cockpit, chassis systems and for driver-assist capabilities. Until now, managing those operations has taken dozens, or even hundreds, of individual electronic control units.
By redesigning electronics systems, these high-performance computers can, among other benefits, make vehicles more secure and even reduce their weight since less wiring is required.
Setzer said Continental intends to expand its software capabilities now, even as it continues to produce high-powered computer hardware.
"We are more than happy to supply more sophisticated and more powerful computers in the future," Setzer said. "But the different functionalities in coping with all the complex needs of future systems — this is to be managed by software."