Electric power steering is a fuel- and weight-saving technology that eliminates the need for hydraulic lines, belts, pulleys, pumps and reservoirs and regular maintenance.
How it works: An electric motor drives the steering in one of three ways.
1. With column drive, an inexpensive method best suited for lighter vehicles, the motor is wrapped around the steering column.
2. Pinion drive systems, which give a better steering feel, have the motor on the rack-and-pinion assembly inside the engine compartment. This solution is unsuitable for medium or larger vehicles because these vehicles need larger motors and space is limited.
3. In belt drive systems, the electric motor is strapped onto the rack, which it drives through a toothed belt. This is viewed as a promising solution for vehicles as heavy as 2.5 tons.
Where to find it: In Europe and Japan, it is on almost every new small car and an increasing proportion of medium and larger vehicles. Electric power steering has been slower to migrate to North America. Vehicles with it here include the Chevrolet Malibu and Cobalt, Pontiac G5 and G6 and the Mini Cooper.
Obstacles: Road feel and precision can disappoint some drivers. Availability is limited for medium and heavier vehicles.
Primary suppliers: Continental, Delphi, Favess (Denso, Koyo, Toyota), JTEKT, NSK, Robert Bosch, Siemens VDO Automotive, TRW Automotive, Visteon, ZF Lenksysteme.