Orbital Engine Corporation (NYSE: OE - news) has recruited two experienced automotive industry account managers in Germany and the United States to drive the growth of its global automotive business.

Mr. Thorsten Stroh, who will be based in Frankfurt, has been appointed Senior Customer Account Manager - Europe. He previously worked for automotive engineering company Robert Bosch GmbH in Stuttgart.

Mr. Robert Schmidt has been appointed to a similar role for the United States market, working from Detroit. Mr. Schmidt previously worked for TI Group Automotive Systems (formerly Walbro Corporation) and Mannesmann VDO.

Orbital CEO Kim Schlunke said the company had recruited additional experienced staff to support increased activity from customers.

"The automotive industry is starting to focus very closely on the application of direct fuel injection (DI) technology to conventional 4-stroke engines," Mr. Schlunke said.

"Our air assist DI system is consistently producing superior test results and attracting growing interest.

"This is evidenced by our recently announced alliances with Saab Automobiles and Delphi Automotive Systems.

"In addition, we are working with several other automotive manufacturers at various stages of prototype development, feasibility assessment and production proofing."

Mr. Schlunke said the growing interest in DI technology stemmed from market pressure and legislative requirements, which were forcing manufacturers in both Europe and the United States to improve engine efficiency.

"We already have staff in the United States and Europe, plus we receive support from Synerject, our 50-50 manufacturing joint venture with Siemens Automotive, which has operations in Virginia and Italy.

"With the growing level of interest from manufacturers and automotive suppliers, we have recruited additional experienced staff to ensure we meet the needs of our customers."

The technology alliance with Saab is aimed at the industrialisation and commercial release of Saab engines using Orbital's direct injection fuel systems.

The agreement with Delphi, a global leader in automotive components and systems technology, is focused on the joint development of a spark plug injector that integrates the spark plug and fuel injector into a single device.

Orbital's DI fuel systems substantially boost the efficiency of internal combustion engines, reducing exhaust emissions and improving fuel economy. An Orbital test vehicle has achieved the strict European Stage 4 emission limits, due to apply in the year 2005, while also achieving a 13% improvement in fuel economy over an identical vehicle fitted with a conventional fuel injection system.

Orbital is a leading international developer of engine technologies using direct in-cylinder fuel injection and lean-burn systems for enhanced fuel economy and lower emissions. The company serves the worldwide automotive, marine, recreational and motorcycle markets. Headquartered in Perth, Western Australia, Orbital stock is traded on the Australian Stock Exchange (OEC), the New York Stock Exchange (OE) as well as the Berlin (ORE) and Frankfurt (OREA) Exchanges.