TRW starts production of its Electric Power Steering belt drive system
TRW Automotive has recently started production of its electrically powered steering (EPS) belt drive system for the first time on a global vehicle platform launching in China. The company is manufacturing the technology at its state-of-the-art facility in Anting.
“Electric steering is a rapidly growing technology globally due to the many advantages it can provide,” said Peter Lake, executive vice president for sales and business development at TRW. “Creating a regional production base for our customers will provide a cost effective source for these fuel-saving and emission reducing technologies. It will enable us to expand our EPS footprint for the production of global platforms and help to make it available to our broader customer base in China and Asia.”
Over the last 18 months, TRW has installed equipment to produce and assemble the belt drive units at its Anting facility. For this platform, line capacity is expected to be in the range of 400,000 units annually by 2014.
TRW offers two Electrically Powered Steering (EPS) solutions to cover the full vehicle platform range, which consume power only when steering assist is needed. The first is the column drive unit which is mounted on the steering column and the second is belt drive where the assist power is applied directly to the rack with a belt drive and ball nut mechanism. Significant fuel economy and CO2 emissions benefits can be realized with both systems when compared with traditional hydraulic power steering. The technology can deliver a fuel saving of 0.3 to 0.4 L/100km, with a corresponding reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of approximately 7-8g/km.
“We have already launched our column drive technology with both China domestic and international customers and are now investing heavily in capacity to introduce our latest innovation – EPS belt drive – to meet the needs of the China market,” said Lake. “In addition to EPS, we are also adding local production capabilities for other advanced technologies such as airbag inflators, electric park brake and electronic stability control. TRW is creating the infrastructure to meet all market needs – from domestic vehicles to global platforms.”
I’m convinced that the future of power steering is electric. Indeed, with the upcoming electrification of the powertrains, more electrical energy is stored in battery or whatever storage system and is made available for the accessories. Power steering is often needed at low speed, in cities, where hybrids have most of their energy recovery potential. It seems to be a perfect fit. Do you think hydraulic power steering will disappear at least for mature markets in the coming years?