This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 30, 2002

Automotive Electronics Companies Advance Hybrid Technologies

U.S. car companies continue to lag behind their Japanese competitors regarding hybrid-electric vehicles, but several U.S. companies that specialize in automotive electronics appear to be making significant advances. That progress was evident at last week's "Convergence 2002," an automotive electronics conference held in Detroit, Michigan. Dana Corporation and Delphi Corporation both introduced systems that integrate a starter and alternator, allowing vehicles to automatically stop the engine when at a stop, and Paice Corporation introduced high-voltage power semiconductors that it claims will make more efficient, high-voltage hybrid vehicle systems a practical reality. Among other energy-saving technologies introduced at the conference were electronic steering systems and "intelligent" cooling and lubrication systems. See the Convergence 2002 press releases.

But don't start thinking that the U.S. car companies aren't contributing as well: In early October, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corporation announced that they will work together to develop a front-wheel-drive, six-speed automatic transmission. The new transmission is expected to yield a 4 to 8 percent improvement in fuel economy over today's traditional 4-speed automatic transmissions. The companies expect the transmission to be available in large-engine vehicles between 2005 and 2010. See the GM press release.