Using navigation to save energy? It's coming

If BMW's EfficientDynamics technologies are any indication, vehicle route guidance systems may be the next big thing in fuel economy.

The German automaker plans to introduce a route guidance system that helps the energy management system calculate the most efficient times to run the vehicle's electrical accessories.

After the motorist inputs a destination, for example, the computer could schedule the starter battery's recharge during a long downhill stretch, when the load on the engine is light. It's all about the convergence of two major trends: the increasing electrification of the auto and the growing usefulness of the vehicle navigation system.

What does this mean for suppliers? Any company that produces engine control units and route guidance systems has a big opportunity to integrate these two components.

Companies such as Bosch, Denso and Continental come to mind. Look for them to market all-in-one energy management systems. The need for better fuel economy could be persuasive.