DETROIT - Ever had trouble navigating your big sport-utility into a tight parking spot? You know: Pull in, back out, pull in again?
Delphi Automotive Systems Corp. has a new four-wheel steering system for full-sized vehicles that could change all of that.
It's called Quadrasteer. Delphi introduced it here last week at the 2000 SAE World Congress.
Quadrasteer improves the maneuverability and stability of full-sized vehicles by electronically controlling the direction of the rear wheels.
At moderate speeds, the rear wheels remain straight. But at lower speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front wheels. That helps shorten the turning circle, on average by about 20 percent. That leads to easier parking, even with a trailer.
At higher speeds, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels. That means improved stability, handling and control on the highway, especially when hauling a trailer.
Quadrasteer is expected to debut on a production vehicle early this decade. Delphi won't name the customer.
Delphi also announced two new contracts: a $40 million contract to supply seat belts to General Motors for a future full-sized van program and a $90 million contract with Renault SA to provide compact variable compressors for two future global vehicles.
FUTURE IS TECHNOLOGY
For suppliers such as Delphi, the future is all about new technologies such as Quadrasteer. Electronics, especially, helped Delphi log $33 billion worth of future business in 1999.
Its new Integrated Safety System, which the company also featured at the SAE conference, brought in contracts worth $3 billion; its mobile multimedia products garnered another $2.5 billion.
The company has no plans to mess with a good thing.
'We expect that by 2005, electronics and other high-tech systems will account for 60 percent of our business, versus approximately 40 percent today,' said J.T. Battenberg, Delphi CEO.
Among Delphi's high-tech offerings is its new Integrated Safety System. The system actually is a collection of 50 current, soon-to-be-available and future technologies that can work together in a vehicle to prevent collisions or at least minimize the risks to vehicle occupants if a collision occurs.
'Fully realized, the ISS would offer occupants a virtual electronic cocoon with 360 degrees of enhanced protection around the vehicle,' said Dave Wohleen, executive vice president of Delphi's electronics and mobile communications sector.
Delphi also expects to cash in big on the industry rush to put gee-whiz electronics in vehicles to inform, educate and entertain drivers and passengers.
Battenberg said forecasts project 25 to 30 percent annual growth in the mobile multimedia segment.
'The digital age is transforming the mobile environment,' Battenberg said. Consumers are spending more time in their vehicles. They want that time to be safe but also productive, he said.
Four new Delphi multimedia products will hit the market during the 2001 model year: an integrated radio navigation system, a rear-seat audio-video entertainment system, an infotainment PC and a satellite digital audio radio service.