Electric power steering removes the need for hoses and pumps, and offers fuel savings over hydraulic steering.
How it works
A battery-driven electric motor provides the drive on the steering system rather than a hydraulic device operated by the engine.
The technology also disconnects the steering system's power needs from the engine, which results in better fuel economy than hydraulic steering in a typical small car.
Where to find it
Electric power steering is most common in Europe and Japan but also can be found in North America. Some researchers have forecast that about half of all new light-passenger vehicles globally could have electric power steering by 2010.
The majority of the new small cars in Europe and Japan now have the technology.
The 2005 Volkswagen Passat is the first volume car above the lower-medium segment in Europe to get the technology. In North America, electric power steering is standard on the Chevrolet Malibu sedan and Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent SUVs. The technology also is available on the new Lexus GS car and typically is found in hybrid vehicles.
For suppliers, the cost of electric power steering is still relatively high, says Peter Rieth, head of advanced engineering at Continental Automotive Systems.
As a result, he says, "OEMs are very keen to have extra functions when they have integrated electric power steering."
Another issue is that electric power steering is only starting to have enough power to be used in the upper-medium segment and above. The axle weight and the associated torque loads required to turn the wheels in bigger cars would quickly drain the battery.
Delphi Corp., Koyo Seiko Co. Ltd., NSK, Showa Corp., TRW Automotive Inc., Visteon Corp. and ZF Lenksysteme.