Automakers delving in autonomous driving need to start rethinking partnerships with communications and technological companies, according to a major German component supplier.FRANKFURT, Germany - The growing importance of computer-networked cars that can communicate with the driver and the environment will turn the entire industry on its head, according to major German component supplier Continental.Continental's car electronics chief Christian Senger said (Sept 11) at the 2013 Frankfurt auto show: "The automobile industry has been a closed club for decades, dominated by the mechanical world. With the advent of 'intelligent' cars it's time to open up the automotive world and work hand-in-hand with the information technology industry."'WORK HAND-IN-HAND'According to Senger, established automakers must rethink their co-operation with young, innovative firms from other sectors. "We will have to find a way to work together," he added.The Continental manager said combining old-school and new company cultures was a big challenge, as was the complex technology involved.Continental, listed on Germany's stock exchange, has already forged new alliances, more recently with network systems supplier Cisco and technological giant IBM. The company wants to improve assistance and warning systems for drivers and that requires huge quantities of computer data.According to the company, co-operation on car networking is a prelude to autonomous motoring, when cars will drive themselves while the human watches TV or checks emails. Senger said this could become a reality by 2025.GROUND-BREAKING MODELSSmart cars that can keep the driver informed of road hazards and interact with other cars and the outside world are a major topic at the Frankfurt show, where dozens of new cars are being unveiled.New models include ground-breaking, all-electric runabouts from BMW and Volkswagen, along with hybrid petrol-electric sports cars and luxury sedans designed to be both fast and frugal.The show was officially opened on Sept 12 by German chancellor Angela Merkel after two news meda days and will go public from Saturday (Sept 14-22). Stay with Wheels24 for the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show.