The list of innovations is as varied as the suppliers that produced them.
Voice recognition technology, adaptive cruise control, 'intelligent' key cards - these and other inventions are entries in th e sixth annual Automotive News PACE competition.
Twenty-four automotive suppliers have been selected as finalists for the awards, which are co-sponsored by Ernst & Young LLP.
PACE stands for Premier Automotive Suppliers' Contributions to Excellence.
New to the competition this year is the category for European entries. Winners in both the North American and the European categories will be announced on March 6.
NORTH AMERICAN FINALISTS
The North America n finalists, in alphabetical order:
1. American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. of Detroit for its AAM steering linkage for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups. The assembly is lighter, easier to manufacture and it offers more precise steering.
2. Ametek Dixson, a division of Ametek Inc. of Grand Junction, Colo., for its Interlink multiplexed vehicle gauge system for heavy trucks. Rather than have each gauge on a vehicle's instrument panel linked to a sensor by a separate wire, Interlink lets all of the gauges receive signals from a single wire connected to the truck's serial data bus.
3. ASHA Technologies, a division of the McLaren Automotive Group of Santa Barbara, Calif., for its Auto Body Concept. The technology bonds composite body panels to a tubular steel chassis. The assembly process requires no paint and uses recyclable materials.
4. Autoliv Inc. of Stockholm for its ASH-2 side-impact airbag inflator. The system uses a chemical process to inflate airbags at a lower temperature than traditional methods that involve combustion. This lets the airbag stay inflated longer and reduces the risk of burns to crash victims.
5. Delphi Delco Electronics Systems of Kokomo, Ind., for its Forewarn adaptive cruise control system. When the motorist uses adaptive cruise control, onboard radar sensors track the distance to vehicles ahead. If the motorist's car goes faster than those vehicles, the system slows the car to maintain a preset following distance. When the lane clears, it automatically restores the car to cruising speed.
6. Donnelly Corp. of Holland, Mich., for its SmartRelease trunk entrapment prevention system. The system uses sensors to detect humans or animals in a car trunk and automatically releases the trunk latch.
7. Fanuc RoboticsNorth America Inc. of Rochester Hills, Mich., for its F-100 flexible positioner. The tool provides the flexibility to build different vehicles and body styles on the same assembly line without changing tooling.
8. Gentex Corp. of Zeeland, Mich., for its white light-emitting diode illuminators. 'Additive color mixing' technology allows the manufacture of white light-emitting diode lights. These can be used as illumination sources in car interiors.
9. Gleason Corp. of Rochester, N.Y., for its PowerCutting process. PowerCutting lets manufacturers cut bevel gears with a 50 percent cost reduction. The process eliminates the need for oil and solvents during cutting.
10. Gleason Corp. for its Umc-Ultima gear noise and gear strength optimization process. The system uses sophisticated software and cutting tools to shape gear surfaces precisely, which reduces the noise generated by meshing gears.
11. Guide Corp. of Anderson, Ind. for its second surface valve gate technology. The technology allows the production of a four-color, polycarbonate lens for automotive lamps.
12. Hewlett-Packard Co. of San Jose, Calif., for its SnapLED assembly. This technology makes light-emitting diode signal lights practi cal alternatives to incandescent lights in a vehicle's rear lighting.
13. McCord Winn Textronof Manchester, N.H., for its RI Tec fan shroud reservoir. Advances in blow molding allowed McCord to combine the radiator fan shroud, coolant reservoir, front and rear washer reservoirs and the rear washer reservoir fill funnel into a single part. That reduces material and inventory costs.
14. Parish Structural Productsdivision of Dana Canada Inc. of St. Marys, Ontario, for its process creating load-bearing structural components out of thin wall tubing. The process uses hydroforming to use light, thin tubing to produce a very strong load-bearing structure such as the engine cradle for the Ford Windstar.
15. PPG Industries Inc. of Pittsburgh for its Power-Prime two-coat electrodeposition primer system. The system provides superior resistance to corrosion and chipping.
16. US Farathane Corp. of Utica, Mich., for it s air conditioning evaporator core seals. By keeping out water, this new seal between the evaporator core and the air conditioner's housing keeps musty smells out of the passenger area.
17. Valeo SA of Paris for its Park Assist System. The system lets motorists guide their vehicles more precisely while parking. Sensors in the front and rear bumpers detect objects in the vehicle's path. The driver is alerted through a series of beeps, which grow progressively more frequent as the object gets closer.
18. Visteon Automotive Systems of Dearborn, Mich., for its Visteon Voice Technology. The voice recognition technology permits hands-free usage of a variety of cockpit devices. Users might make phone calls, adjust the climate control or change tracks on a CD without taking their hands off the wheel.
19. Visteon Automotive Systems for its Superintegration system for designing integrated components. The system lets Visteon coordinate the design capabilities of its product divisions. For example, the system lets Visteon design an all-in-one instrument panel with a reinforcing cross piece, climate control air ducts and an airbag housing.
EUROE AN FINALISTS
The European finalists, in alphabetical order:
1. Delphi Chassis Systems of Dayton, Ohio, for its Dynamic Body Control, an active roll-control system designed to improve ride and handling for sport-utilities.
2. Me ritor Automotive Inc. of Troy, Mich., for its roof module. The ready-to-install roof combines a hard shell with a headliner molded to it. It is featured on DaimlerChrysler's Smart car.
3. PPG Industries for its automotive powder clearcoat. The system allows less waste and better quality when the vehicle is painted. Since the system does not require solvents, it is more environmentally friendly than traditional spray-on paint primers.
4. Rieter Automotiv e Systemsfor its Ultra Light sound-deadening materials. Fiber and foam layers reduce noise, vibration and harshness.
5. Siemens Automotive Corp. of Auburn Hills, Mich., for its Keyless Go ID card. Instead of keys, car owners will use 'intelligent' identification cards. With a card, the driver approaches the car and grabs the door handle. The door automatically unlocks. After entering the vehicle, the motorist starts the engine with the push of a button.