Robert Bosch GmbH sees a growing market ahead for parking-distance sensor systems. Bosch expects demand in Western Europe to grow by more than 20 percent a year to 1.6 million systems by 2007.
Bosch says distance sensors are an increasingly cost-effective way to prevent damage to the rear bumper.
Last year, 200,000 parking distance sensor systems were sold in Western Europe as original equipment, the company said. Between 60,000 and 80,000 were sold to the aftermarket.
The company recently launched a new low-cost version of its Parkpilot system. Priced at 570 marks (aboutDM (euro 288 $306, it is about DM228 $120 cheaper than the previous version.
The Parkpilot is offered as an original-equipment option on the Porsche Boxster and 911; the Mercedes-Benz S, E and C class and CLK; the Ford Focus, Mondeo, Galaxy and Cougar; and the Honda Accord.
'The Parkpilot is considerably less expensive than the cost of repairing a damaged rear bumper,' said a Bosch spokeswoman. She said rear-bumper repairs can cost as much as DM1,000 $536.
A restricted view from the rear window is often a feature of modern car design. Therefore, reversing safely can be difficult sometimes.
The Parkpilot system integrates ultrasonic sensors into the rear bumper. The sensors measure the distance between the bumper and objects such as other cars or walls, within a range of 300mm-1,500mm one to five feet. Optical and acoustic signals inform the driver of the closing distance between car and obstacle.
Parking-distance sensor systems are standard only on top-of-the-line cars from brands such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Where the systems are available as options, Bosch says the installation rate is between 50 and 65 percent.
Bosch also offers the Parkpilot as a retrofit kit for installation in passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.