Here are profiles of five of the 23 finalists for the 2004 Automotive News PACE Awards.
What: Automotive News PACE Awards honoring innovative automotive suppliers
Co-sponsored with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Transportation Research Center Inc.
Winners: Will be announced Monday, March 8
Where: Detroit Opera House
Who else: Other finalists will be featured weekly through March 1
|Dura Automotive Systems Inc.|
Rochester Hills, Mich.
Instead of making side window lifts out of heavy steel or cables that can fail or slip out of adjustment, Dura has introduced an all-plastic lift with dual rack-and-pinion gears. In this system, a motor is not anchored inside the door but travels with the glass. No lubrication is needed on the proprietary plastic tracks and gears, and the two-point-mounted component only moves the glass up and down, without any chance of back-and-forth jamming.
|Techform Products Ltd.|
For: Tailgate assist
Pickup truck tailgates are heavy, and closing them requires strength. Techform has put a torque rod into the tailgate that stores some opening energy to help close it later. Operating force is reduced by 60 percent - a significant reduction, since more trucks are being bought and used by women. The rod, in use on the 2004 Ford F-150 pickup, still allows tailgate removal and requires only modest hinge modifications.
|LESS WINDSHIELD NOISE|
For: Vanceva Quiet acoustic interlayer
Windshield glass is hard, and wind striking the glass causes panel noise just as wind striking the rest of the car does. Adding a sound-absorbing layer is tough to do while maintaining clear vision. Vanceva Quiet is a viscous film that separates layers of windshield glass, decoupling outer windshield vibrations from the inner layer. Vehicles that use an acoustic windshield, such as the 2004 Buick Rainier, have wind and road noise cut by up to six decibels, a noticeable level.
|Delphi Corp., Saginaw Steering Systems|
Category: Information Technology
For: Horizontal Modeling and Digital Process Design, CAD/CAM Methodologies
Computer-aided design and manufacturing are used widely but can have drawbacks. You can't change one product design feature without unwanted effects that force further changes everywhere else. Delphi's "Horizontal Modeling'' is a new patented methodology for using existing 3-D CAD software that enables design features to be treated independently. The result is labor savings of around 50 percent for file creation and more than 90 percent in editing process drawings. The designer now is able to construct a model without the complexities of linked dependencies. That means more focus on innovation and creativity and less on the mechanics of the software.
|A QUICK BELT FOR SAFETY|
Livonia, Mich., and Alfdorf, Germany
For: Active Control Retractor
Safety in a crash is greatest when humans are in the correct position in their seats. TRW's European developers created an active seat belt that uses chassis stability and braking sensors to know when a crash is happening, and tightens the belts in anticipation, holding occupants in the right position before impact occurs. The system, installed in the Mercedes-Benz S class, uses a computer-controlled electric motor to act in milliseconds. If no crash happens, the belts ease off after 10 seconds, ready for re-use.