Valeo has launched a new e-module concept expected to help vehicle manufacturers flexibly integrate increasingly complex electrical, electronic and mechanical features into future vehicles.

The e-module is a “design for integration” for individual components. These can later be combined into a single sub-module with common connectors and mounting points.

Although the e-module concept will find applications in many locations in a vehicle, Valeo is concentrating the first application of the e-module concept on tailgates and other types of rear door opening.

Car manufacturer engineers and designers have told key automotive supplier Valeo that feature-packed rear doors pose many challenges when it comes to including more electronic features yet achieving distinctive styling, standard components, build quality and durability/performance targets, while cutting assembly costs.

The e-module is said to be a new way of viewing rear ‘closure’ packaging, not just as a series of components bolted together but as flexible modules, integrated and ideally located to reduce costs while maintaining high quality.

The e-module concept is also said to provide the required level of electrical, electronic and mechanical integration to reduce overall costs while deliviering architecture flexible enough to be compatible with the various rear door designs for any given vehicle platform.

The e-module designs also anticipate future innovations for easy access and enhanced rear vision.

Valeo will supply customised e-module-based sub-modules directly to car makers from 2004.

The sub-modules, which relate to rear vision and door openings for example, can be adapted to many vehicle models and platforms.

Each unit will be pre-tested as an “in-vehicle” system prior to delivery without the need for costly additional in-plant testing.

The new rear door modules give designers more opportunities by allowing features such as electrically powered door or tailgate units to be added without extensive modification to the existing electric and electronic systems.

The e-module concept also helps reduce component count by function sharing, physical integration and long-life parts. This is claimed to ensure that all components are compatible with each other while allowing quick and simple volume assembly with significant cost and weight savings.

Valeo also expects the concept to cut final assembly time for rear door openings by as much as half and it is compatible with the automated assembly systems already used by car makers.

Valeo expects that car makers will still assemble the complete rear door unit in-house so they can use their own specialised processes such as tailgate painting.