TRW Automotive has unveiled its Electric Park Brake (EPB) system for front axles, set to launch in 2013.

TRW claims that the new brake system offers safety benefits and space optimisation in the vehicle's passenger compartment from eliminating the handbrake lever or pedal.

The company says that the front axle system offers simple vehicle assembly within the wheel environment and enhances emergency braking performance through integration with ABS/ESC (electronic stability control) in the event of hydraulic failure. Comfort and safety features can be included such as hill and drive away assist, ECD (electronically controlled deceleration), rollaway detection, and premium stand still management to support 'stop and go' and 'auto hold' functionality.

"TRW's front axle EPB offers an affordable solution, requiring only small modifications to the front axle calipers and integrating the necessary electronic components and software into an existing ESC control unit," said vice president, braking engineering at TRW, Josef Pickenhahn.

TRW's front EPB is planned for launch in 2013, the company said.

This latest advance by TRW follows a string of innovations it has launched in the EPB arena. Meanwhile, all the main electronic brake system integrators have been developing their own solution to EPB.

An EPB system replaces mechanical parking brakes and the bulky mechanisms associated with them such as hand levers or foot pedals in the interior of the vehicle, and cable mechanisms and cables running through the vehicle.

A car equipped with an EPB can also be a big plus for older drivers or those with a physical disability.

During a recent interview with TRW, we asked what are the most cost-effective electronic braking systems to implement? TRW's engineers told us: "The basic anti-lock braking system is still the most cost-effective system to implement as it does not add some of the sensors (steering angle, yaw, etc.) needed for full electronic stability control. In markets like Brazil where this has now been mandated and all passenger cars will have ABS by 2014, this is a viable option and is also still being fitted in other emerging markets.

"Additionally, with the mandates for all passenger cars to have ESC in the western markets of Europe and the US, there is a continual drive for cost reduction. TRW has a lower cost version of its stability control system that eliminates the need for a pressure transducer and can help cut the cost of the system by five per cent or more.

"There is also a push towards electronic integration to eliminate the need for separate sensors and Electronic Control Units (ECUs). Among the strategies that TRW employs is the integration of the ESC and the Electric Park Brake (EPB) - a system we call EPBi or integrated EPB. The control software for the EPB unit is now included in the ESC ECU and thus eliminates the need for a separate control unit.

"We have also integrated sensors into our Airbag Control Units (ACUs) and this has provided OEMs with similar cost reduction benefits."

Q&A with TRW: Electronic braking systems