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Former Google executive Seval Oz will head Continental's new Silicon Valley unit (Photo: Continental

Continental is setting up a beachhead in Silicon Valley, in a move to make sure it is part of a growing automotive and IT community in California mapping out the future of personal transportation.

The Hanover-based automotive supplier said it is putting together an international team of specialists who will focus on intelligent transportation systems (ITS). Automakers such as Volkswagen Group, Renault and its partner Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Ford and others have in recent years all established r&d centers in California. Traditional suppliers have been following.

Continental hired a senior Google manager, Seval Oz, to run the new business unit, which is called Continental Intelligent Transportation Systems. Oz previously was Google's senior business development manager, working on the company's self-driving car project. Continental in particular cited her expertise as a vehicle networking and automation expert.

"This step is an excellent example of our strategy to make the car an integral part of the ”˜Internet of Everything,’" Continental CEO Elmar Degenhart said in a press statement.

In the same press release, Oz stressed the importance of cooperation between the automotive and IT industries in defining the car of the future. Said Oz: "Our mission is to dramatically improve mobility and safety by forging strong partnerships in both the tech and automotive realm.”