Building on the success of its column-assisted EPS system, which debuted on the 1999 Fiat Punto and drew strong reviews from the European press, Delphi Steering is introducing the new systems with high-volume production slated for five different vehicle platforms. Contract details remain confidential by request of the customers, but the global business awards average six model years and include a wide-range of vehicles beginning with B-segment vehicles through full-size utilities. The new technologies will appear on some late-2009 vehicles and go into full production in 2010.
"Many OEMs have provided feedback over the years that our column-assist design is the best performing EPS system they have driven," said Robert J. Remenar, Delphi vice president and president of Delphi Steering. "Now, with our new pinion-assist and rack-assist EPS systems, we are expanding the application range and providing greater application flexibility."
"Under-the-Hood" EPS Systems
Delphi's latest designs are considered "under-the-hood" EPS systems. Instead of providing power assist through the steering column below the dash, Delphi's pinion-assist EPS system has the system controller-motor unit on the steering gear pinion shaft and the rack-assist design has it integrated with the steering rack. The electronics for both systems are designed to withstand the high temperatures and environmental exposure that are typical outside the driver compartment.
Delphi's pinion-assist system has a design range comparable to Column EPS, but offers OEMs packaging and crashworthiness flexibility. Delphi's rack-assist system is designed for heavier vehicles, to handle higher front-axle loads and to fit into limited content-integration space.
Valued Performance Advantages
"Whether it is packaging and fuel economy, or advanced features such as pull compensation, active dampening, active return or park assist, our EPS systems are designed to bring value to the consumer," said Ronald W. Voigt, director of Delphi's Steering Business Unit. "Electric power steering is valued by today's motoring public for increased fuel economy and environmental friendliness, increased safety with power assist even with the engine off, and overall improved durability and performance."
Delphi's EPS systems include a speed-variable assist function, which continuously adapts to give drivers more assistance at low speeds for easier turning and parking and less assistance at high speeds for tighter, more responsive highway driving. With the Pull Compensation feature, if the vehicle tends to drift left or right due to tires, road conditions or crosswinds, the system will "learn" that tendency and compensate so steering performance remains true. The Active Dampening feature allows the system to filter road disturbances while maintaining excellent road feel. With Active Return, the EPS systems provide drivers with improved vehicle control by returning the steering wheel to center more quickly and predictably.
Superior System Technology
Delphi's new pinion-assist and rack-assist EPS systems demonstrate several competitive advantages as well. In-house design expertise of motor-controller-sensor electronics and software has enabled Delphi to integrate a durable and reliable system controller into a common package with the power-assist motor. In addition to saving valuable space in content-rich engine compartments, the unitized motor-controllers are easily fitted to different vehicle platforms, reduce assembly costs, and increase performance integrity compared to systems employing remote electronic controls. Both of these systems also offer enhanced crashworthiness with flexible underhood electronics packaging.
The new systems, as well as Delphi's successful column-assist EPS system, utilize a highly advanced, non-contacting torque and position steering sensor. The modular design provides superior torque-sensing capabilities, options for either relative or absolute position, and exceptional temperature stability. Extremely compact with minimized parts content, the sensor combines Hall-effect technology with magnets for unmatched durability.
Delphi Steering's proprietary tuning software is another differentiating technology. By connecting a laptop computer to the system's controller, Delphi engineers can rapidly change the tuning values and significantly reduce development and tuning costs. Tuning steering feel, which typically takes months on hydraulic power steering systems, can be cut to weeks, allowing OEMs a unique and cost-effective opportunity to help distinguish steering feel and achieve specific brand character.
A Heritage of Steering Innovation
"These latest EPS systems build on our strong heritage of steering innovation," Remenar said. "We have a century-long track record of bringing new, high-value steering solutions to the market."
From the first hydraulic power steering systems, through the first tilt-adjustable and energy-absorbing steering columns, to the first active steering systems, Delphi Steering has delivered wheel-to-wheel steering system expertise. And, the numbers are impressive with more than 100 million hydraulic steering gears sold since 1951 and more than 8 million column-assisted EPS systems just since 1999.
Today, Delphi hydraulic and electric power steering systems are recognized leaders in the industry for advanced technologies, steering feel, vehicle-tuned integration and flexibility. With localized engineering, manufacturing, and customer sales and support, Delphi Steering currently produces steering and driveline products for a diverse base of 64 customers worldwide.
A full range of Delphi Steering technologies are on display at the IAA 2007 motor show from Sept. 13 through Sept. 22. They are showcased, along with other Delphi Corp. offerings for "driving tomorrow's technology," at Stand A04, in Hall 5.1 of the Exhibition Centre Frankfurt.
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