Market Engineering

New electronic architecture by Nexteer will accelerate industry transition to electric power steering

Press Release   •   Apr 24, 2012 18:00 BST

Paris, France – 24 April 2012 Nexteer Automotive has developed an innovative electronic architecture for its electric power steering (EPS) systems that will make integration of new electronic features faster and provide greater functional safety. The architecture gives manufacturers a single, customizable 12-volt platform for all passenger vehicle types, from low-cost micro-cars to the highest-specification luxury SUVs.

“The industry’s migration from hydraulic to electric power steering as a key part of CO2 reduction strategies has led to record orders for Nexteer’s premium-feel EPS technology in the past two years,” said Laurent Bresson, Vice President Global Sales and Marketing and Chief Operating Officer International Division. “The new architecture’s ability to deliver higher rack forces and customized electronic functions will help EPS migrate into new applications, creating further growth for Nexteer and exciting career opportunities for our expanding team.”

“The architecture will enable manufacturers to introduce new, increasingly complex steering functions,” said Bertram Moeller, Network leader Systems Engineering Europe, Nexteer Automotive. “Instead of using standardized architectures for different vehicles classes, Nexteer’s single, highly flexible architecture adapts to suit individual customer requirements and future-proof platforms. The architecture also allows us to provide more power to the EPS, so that it can steer any passenger vehicle using a standard 12-volt supply.”

Development of electrical architectures for EPS is driven by a number of related factors. The introduction of new functional safety standard ISO 26262 is a major driver with compliance made more important after recent high-profile competitor product recalls. The introduction of the Autosar standardized software architecture also increases CPU memory requirements. At the same time a rise in the number of more complex functions, such as lane-keeping assistance, where multiple systems communicate, has increased the need for new communication structures, such as dual CANbus and FlexRay.

“Whereas a few years ago, customer specification sheets contained just two or three steering functions, a list of 20 is now common,” said Moeller. “To provide the substantial increase in processing power needed, Nexteer is using a new family of ISO 26262-compliant dual-core processors scalable in memory to 10 times than today with much higher processing speed. The first full implementation of the new electrical architecture enters production in 2013. “

Steering, along with the brake system, is a safety-related vehicle system. It is also the primary interface with the vehicle and road surface. Nexteer’s in-house software expertise enables it to deliver complex functions based on electronic control of the motor and its diagnostics that improve the driving experience and vehicle performance.

“Functions such as pull compensation, which keep the steering straight on crowned roads, and wheel imbalance rejection, which filters uncomfortable wheel vibrations, have significantly reduced warranty issues for Nexteer customers,” added Moeller. “The new architecture provides the processing power, functional safety, robust vehicle communication and standardized software required to introduce further functions such as lane-keeping assistance that coordinate with other vehicle systems. This intelligent approach will make it simpler for OEMs to offer customers new functions throughout vehicle lifecycles.”

The new architecture is fully scalable. At the entry level, a simplified control platform offers a low-cost system for economy cars and emerging markets, with the flexibility to add more sophisticated features for future models. For premium platforms, the modular nature of the architecture allows a high level of feature flexibility to enable a wide range of options and a development path into the future.

The introduction of the new architecture will integrate compliance to the ISO 26262 standard into Nexteer’s core development process and hardware design, making the development of new functions and the fulfillment of customer requirements faster.

Note to editors
Functional safety aims to eliminate unacceptable risk of injury or damage by treating the function of a component or sub-system as part of the function of the whole system. Functional safety standards, such as ISO 26262, focus on the reliability of each individual component, its development and its production, not just its performance within the overall system.

About Nexteer Automotive
Nexteer Automotive is a multi-billion dollar global steering and driveline business solely dedicated to electric and hydraulic steering systems, steering columns and driveline products for original equipment manufacturers. Its 9,800 workforce serve more than 60 customers in every major region of the world. The company has 20 manufacturing plants, six engineering centers and 15 customer service centers strategically located in North and South America, Europe and Asia. Nexteer Automotive's customers include GM, Fiat, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler and PSA Peugeot Citroen, as well as automakers in India, China and South America.

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