DuPont Survey Sees Cost as Top Automotive Industry Challenges, with Fuel Economy, Technology on Rise

Cost reduction,fuel economy,technology issues,safety and emissions are top challenges.

Published: 02-Mar-2001

TROY, Mich., March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- While cost reduction continues to top the list of challenges facing automotive engineers, fuel economy and technology issues are rising, according to automotive engineers responding to the seventh annual DuPont Automotive survey. Safety and emissions regulations remain in the top five challenges, slipping a little in relative urgency, the survey indicates.

More than half of the automotive engineers surveyed also predict the 42- volt electrical system will be introduced in the Americas in three to five years, and nearly half believe telematics will reach 25-percent penetration in the Americas market in 3-8 years, according to the survey. Also, 25 percent of engineers predict fuel cells to be the most likely alternate-powered vehicles in 5 years, according to the survey.

"The balance between cost containment and new technology that delights consumers is the dynamic that drives this industry," said Jim Weigand, vice president sales and marketing, DuPont Engineering Polymers - Americas. "And even though cost remains the number one challenge, we see its relative importance against emerging technologies waning. This bodes well for the industry as we converge to deliver new technologies and overall value that consumers desire.

"We see the dawning of a number of solid, technology-based opportunities to help automakers differentiate vehicles," said Weigand. "And like many of our partners in the auto industry, we are focused to deliver quick, value enhancing solutions to help enable technical breakthrough."

42-Volt Technology

DuPont recently formed a 42-volt technology team to focus on the high-end DuPont technologies that could help enable the dual-voltage system, which is needed to meet vehicles' ever-growing power demands.

"DuPont leads the industry in thermoplastic encapsulation and solenoid technology and we offer a broad range of high-performance materials for E/E components able to withstand heat, hot water and other extreme environments," said Dr. John C. Solenberger, development planning manager. "When you add those to the EMI shielding and translucent resins, wire enamels and thick-film copper for DC-DC converters, we are positioned to truly help deliver this needed technology."

Telematics

DuPont also plays a key role in telematics through Green Tape(TM) materials from DuPont Microcircuit Materials. Currently these materials are used in Ericsson's Bluetooth Radio Circuit to incorporate RF functions for wireless local area network in a single module. "Green Tape(TM) enables wireless designers to easily integrate functional components to create cost- effective, highly-reliable modules," said Mary Ellen Gustainis, automotive manager for Microcircuit Materials. "DuPont has a unique opportunity to leverage our experience in the telecommunications industry, to help the automotive industry develop wireless telematic devices."

Fuel Cells

DuPont also has formed a DuPont Fuel Cells business and has invested in a multi-million dollar Fuel Cell Technology Center to pursue growth in the emerging proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell market. Building on its longstanding market leadership in Nafion(R) perfluorinated ion exchange membranes, and expertise in polymers, coatings and electrochemistry, DuPont will also be partnering with other companies to develop PEM fuel cell stack components, including membrane electrode assemblies and conductive plates. DuPont is developing technology for direct methanol, reformed fuel and hydrogen fuel cells.

"Our science company heritage and focus on customer needs allows us to use our knowledge to help solve many of the industry's most pressing challenges, such as meeting California Air Resources Board LEV II evaporative fuel emission standards and delivering improved vehicle safety and security," said Weigand.

The Automotive Consulting Group, Ann Arbor, Mich., conducted the DuPont Automotive survey of automakers and suppliers.

With world headquarters in Troy, Mich., DuPont Automotive offers more than 100 product lines to the global automotive industry, including plastics, advanced composites, finishes, fibers, fabricated products, refrigerants, specialty chemicals and lubricants. DuPont worldwide automotive sales currently exceed $6 billion.

DuPont is a science company, delivering science-based solutions that make a difference in people's lives in food and nutrition; health care; apparel; home and construction; electronics; and transportation. Founded in 1802, the company operates in 70 countries and has 94,000 employees.

Green Tape(TM) is a trademark of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.

Nafion(R) is a registered trademark of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.

SOURCE DuPont Automotive

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