Global steering and driveline specialist Nexteer reckons almost five billion litres of fuel have been saved globally by cars fitted with its electric power steering (EPS) technology which, it said, "continues to win market share from hydraulic systems".
This month the 15 millionth car equipped with the Saginaw. Michigan-based supplier's EPS will be produced. "Once regarded as a niche product for small cars, EPS has become the technology of choice for fuel-efficient vehicles as manufacturers strive to reduce their CO2 emissions, due to its lower energy consumption than traditional hydraulic systems," Nexteer said.
Sales and marketing chief Laurent Bresson said: “Less than a decade ago EPS represented four percent of our sales, last year it was nearly 30% and by 2015 it will account for over half. We are quickly expanding into areas previously dominated by hydraulic steering systems in an effort to make the world’s automobiles both more adaptive and efficient.”
Nexteer claims the superior efficiency of EPS can improve a vehicle’s fuel economy by up to six%, which typically reduces CO2 emissions by up to 8g/km. The benefits are not restricted to small car applications; Nexteer supplies EPS for two large 2011 Ford models: the Mustang and F-150 pick-up truck. The 12-volt system produced for the F-150 was a first in the high-volume pickup truck market and another milestone for the supplier.
“This breakthrough could mean Nexteer EPS becomes standard on more than 90% of North American full-size pickups by 2013,” Bresson said.
“The majority of our new business is going electrical,” said Rafal Wyszomirski, manager of Nexteer’s plant in Poland, where over half of the automotive EPS systems sold to date were made.
Nexteer’s history includes the patented Jacox gear system that revolutionised ergonomics by enabling the steering wheel to be arranged in a more natural position for the driver. It began hydraulic power steering trials as early as 1927 and has supplied hydraulic systems to automakers for over 40 years.
In 1999 it was the first supplier to launch EPS.