PARIS - Delphi Automotive is ready to launch a new electric steering system that would replace traditional hydraulic systems.
Sensors measure vehicle speed and driver torque on the steering shaft. An electronic control module analyzes the data and determines the direction and amount of steering assist required.
Then, the controller generates a command to a variable-speed, 12-volt electric motor that drives a gear mechanism to provide the required assist. The controller was designed by Delphi, along with Delco Electronics.
Delphi says electric power steering reduces fuel consumption by eliminating the drain of hydraulic systems - power steering pumps, hoses, fluids, drive belt and pulley - on the engine. It is also easier to locate in the engine compartment, simplifies tuning, and cuts assembly time by up to 3.5 minutes compared with traditional hydraulic systems.
'The electric steering system is more expensive but easier to assemble, easier to package in the engine compartment,' said Nick Franklin, Delphi planning and marketing manager for advanced technologies. 'So it's a cost-saving, fuel-efficient device. It's now 10-20 percent more expensive than hydraulic systems, but the price will be equivalent by 2000-2005. Afterwards, we think that electric power steering will overcome hydraulic steering,'
Franklin said Delphi is about to win two production contracts in 1997 for the system. Production will begin in 1999.