FRANKFURT - Although most attendees at the Frankfurt auto show focus on cars and trucks, the event is a major showcase for automotive suppliers, too. Here are some highlights:
Webasto AG Fahrzeugtechnik, the leading European supplier of sunroofs, showed a new 'panorama' roof prototype for vans, minivans and off-roaders.
The sunroof consists of two large double panels. When the front panel opens, it moves to the rear, and a wind deflector keeps the vehicle interior free from drafts. Two sun blinds offer shade when needed.
Webasto also showed its first soft top for the MCC Smart. Webasto will start delivering soft tops to MCC's Hambach, France, plant from its Utting, Germany, factory early next year.
Faurecia unveiled a futuristic cockpit - dubbed Modulia - for bottom-of-the-range vehicles. The cockpit integrates optional functions such as passenger airbag, air conditioning, CD player, speakers, mobile phone and navigation. The French interiors supplier said it developed Modulia with strict limits on cost.
Faurecia also showed its Active Noise Control system, which reduces tailpipe noise. A traditional muffler is combined with an active system that generates sound waves to cancel out the exhaust noise.
By adjusting both sound sources, Faurecia can tune the sound of the exhaust for individual brands or even individual customers, the company says.
Delphi Automotive Systems Corp. displayed a mobile multimedia system that incorporates MP3 technology, a new digital audio standard that allows music files to be compressed without compromising sound quality.
Delphi also showed its MagneRide system. This ride-control technology offers continuous, real-time damping control that improves ride and handling.
Autoliv Inc. launched the first anti-whiplash system especially designed for rear-seat occupants. The new Self-Inflating Head Restraint consists of an air-filled bag in the backrest.
In a rear-end collision, the air is pressed into a small bag in the headrest, which then moves forward up to 2 inches to cradle the occupant's head. Autoliv says this reduces or eliminates any dangerous gap between the occupant's head and the headrest. The system does not need a sensor or gas generator to inflate the bag in the headrest.
The headrest bag automatically inflates when the occupant is pushed into the foam of the seatback during the early phase of a rear-end collision.
Visteon Automotive Systems displayed voice-command technology that controls a range of functions, from audio and climate control to e-mail and navigation systems. The system, VisteonVoice, understands six languages.
Visteon demonstrated a reconfigurable projected image display for instrument panels. This lets drivers personalize the style and layout of the instrument panel readout.
Ford's in-house parts operation also showed an aftermarket navigation system, NavMate, that will be available in Europe by year end.
Kolbenschmidt Pierburg AG launched its new Engineweb Internet site at Frankfurt. The German supplier's Web site offers news from the engine industry, a survey of engine component and systems suppliers, research and development news and a calendar of events. The Internet service also provides the opportunity for users to share information on trends, facts and figures in discussion forums.