Hybrids hot topic at commercial vehicle exhibition

Hybrid vehicles and electronics were both prominent topics on the second day of the 2005 SAE Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress & Exhibition at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois.

The Yazaki North America exhibit included a broad array of electronics, digital power centers, data links, and instrumentation, as you would expect of such a supplier. But they also exhibited a one-off vehicle showcasing their High Voltage (HV) wiring, connectors, and other components for current and future generations of hybrid/electric and fuel cell vehicles. With more than a decade of hybrid and HV design experience relating to EMC shielding, HV power transfer and continuity, Yazaki also promoted its fiber optic and other environmentally responsible technologies as well.

Electronics continue to dominate ComVec exhibits and presentations. Volvo, for instance, promoted its sophisticated multiplexing system for buses; these systems tend to be most costly on a unit basis since there are typically not large volumes of vehicles over which to amortize development costs. Because buses are normally produced in smaller numbers of specific configurations, they can benefit from more flexible hardware and software innovations. Such innovations can preclude the need for custom-made harnesses and control units that can add substantial cost to low-quantity production runs. Instead, multiplexing and easily programmable control units can be used with standardized harness configurations to achieve needed functionality while containing costs.

On display were Cummins' Variable Geometry Turbocharger, High-Pressure Common Rail fuel system, cooled EGR and Load-Based Speed Control, all of which contribute to enhanced fuel efficiency and optimal performance. Reduced emissions and noise levels are other attributes being promoted.

In addition, Cummins touted its joint venture with Westport Innovations Inc., in which shared technologies yield high-performance, low emissions engines with horsepower ratings from 150 to 320. These engines run on natural gas or LPG, with more than 75 city fleets worldwide using Cummins Westport CNG engines. Of particular interest is the fact that these alternate fuel engines require only the addition of a simple oxidation catalyst for compliance with EPA and CARB optional low-emission standards.

By popular demand, a series of three interactive sessions were held on advances in brake technology for commercial vehicles and how they can contribute to the reduction of accidents. The speakers, who represented government and industry, looked at the NHTSA stopping distance proposals from truck tractors, the brake options for compliance, resource requirements, for implementation and the future of the program. They also discussed value-added technologies which would be accompany any product or platform upgrade ... their features, acceptance and paybacks. The final session focused on the economic, technical and legal consequences of introducing new technologies. Presentations included those on the DOT field operational test with Walmart and Freightliner and US Express and Volvo and voluntary programs to implement DOT new vehicle standards in the aftermarket.

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