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Fuel economy, autonomous-drive ideas win big at PACE 2017

UPDATED: 4/4/17 2:20 pm ET -- correction

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been corrected to note that Schaeffler's electromechanical active roll stabilizer was developed in Herzogenaurach, Germany, not Wooster, Ohio.

DETROIT -- Supplier breakthroughs on advanced electronics and lighter-weight parts proved a common theme here Monday night at the 2017 Automotive News PACE Awards.

A dozen international companies won recognition for breakthrough solutions for lighter-weight components and more efficient engineering, as well as for more advanced safety technologies and new approaches to manufacturing.

A total of 13 Automotive News PACE Awards went to 12 suppliers for their innovations. Schaeffler won two.

Three additional 2017 Innovation Partnership Awards recognized solutions developed in automaker-supplier partnerships at BMW AG, Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG.

The 2017 awards covered a wide spectrum of vehicle components and technologies.

J Ferron, PACE director of judging, said this year’s awards recognize the technology pressures the industry is facing as automakers push for fuel economy gains and autonomous-drive capabilities.

“Innovating products and processes for these future needs means surmounting today’s technical barriers while simultaneously convincing OEMs that those barriers will fall in time to launch vehicles,” Ferron said.

The heart of the challenge is ensuring that a new idea is commercially viable.

“Being a supplier to the automotive industry is not only demanding, it requires organizational focus on unmet future consumer needs,” Ferron said. “Supplier innovations define future vehicle performance well before any start of production or first retail sale.”

The annual PACE Awards recognize recent innovations that have reached commercialization.

GKN Driveline earned a PACE Award for its integrated co-axial electric axle and electric motor system, which makes it easier for automakers to design fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on global platforms.

Continental AG picked up a PACE Award for its development of the MK C1 electrical braking system, a smaller, simpler and lighter-weight system that requires less power.

SanHua Automotive of China won a 2017 PACE Award for its electronic expansion valve, which lets air conditioners work with reduced compressor loads for improved vehicle fuel economy.

Here are the 2017 Pace Award winners.

Product and process award winners:

• Continental, Frankfurt: MK C1 -- Electrical braking system

• Continental Structural Plastics, Auburn Hills, Mich.: TCA Ultra Lite

• Dana, Maumee, Ohio: Multi-Layer Steel Transmission Pump Gasket

• Dayco, Troy, Mich.: ACTIVAC Vacuum Generation System

• Delphi Automotive, Auburn Hills, Mich.: 76GHz Short Range Radar for 360-degree Sensing

• DENSO Corp., Kariya-shi, Aichi-ken, Japan: 4th Generation Diesel Common Rail System

• Giffin, Auburn Hills, Mich.: ELITE Wet Scrubbing Technology

• GKN Driveline, Redditch, Worcestershire, U.K.: GKN Co-Axial Electric Axle

• JTEKT Toyoda Americas Corp., Arlington Heights, Ill.: High-Speed Axis Synchronization

• Nvidia, Santa Clara, Calif.: DRIVE PX 2 -- In-Car Artificial Intelligence Supercomputer

• SANHUA Automotive, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China: Electronic Expansion Valve

• Schaeffler, Herzogenaurach, Germany: Electromechanical Active Roll Stabilizer

• Schaeffler, Wooster, Ohio: One-way Transmission Clutch Assembly

Innovation Partnership Winners

• BMW AG for the partnership on the 3D Gesture Recognition System with Delphi Automotive

• Ford Motor Co. for the partnership on the Port Direct Fuel Injection System with TI Automotive and Bosch

• Volkswagen AG for the partnership on the Variable Nozzle Turbocharger for Gasoline Engine Applications with Honeywell

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com

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