Delphi Automotive Systems (NYSE: DPH) and Orbital Engine Corporation announced today they have entered into a co-development agreement to jointly develop a new gasoline direct-injection technology for automotive engines.

The companies will focus joint development on a spark plug injector that integrates the spark plug and fuel injector into a single device. The technology will have the benefits of low-emission, fuel-efficient direct fuel injection without the costs associated with a significant re-design of the engine.

Dr. Jean Botti, director of Delphi Energy & Chassis Systems’ Customer Solution Center, said, “This exciting new technology will further enhance our leadership in supplying innovative environmentally responsive technologies to the automotive industry. It has the capability to produce significant efficiency improvements while requiring only minor changes to the engines on the road today.”

Orbital CEO Kim Schlunke said, “The spark plug injector has been developed by Orbital and will now be refined for commercial application in conjunction with Delphi. It’s an extension to our core direct fuel-injection activities and will leverage off the supply infrastructure we have already put in place through our joint venture with Siemens Automotive, Synerject. This agreement is an acknowledgement of the technology’s outstanding commercial potential.”

The spark plug injector uses the proprietary air-assisted, direct fuel-injection system developed by Orbital. Delphi brings its expertise in ignition systems, fuel systems and overall vehicle subsystem integration, along with its proven record in commercial application of new automotive technologies to the joint activity. Delphi’s primary role is the design and development of the electrical and spark plug features along with component integration, while Orbital’s primary role is the design and development of the air injector and combustion system. This direct-injection fuel system will be applied more easily to future engines because of its unique packaging. It will require only one point of access to the combustion chamber for both fuel and spark.

Delphi Automotive Systems, headquartered in Troy, Mich., USA, is a multi-national leader in transportation and mobile electronics components and systems technology. Delphi’s three business sectors — Dynamics & Propulsion; Safety, Thermal & Electrical Architecture; and Electronics & Mobile Communication — provide comprehensive product solutions to complex customer needs. Delphi has approximately 214,200 employees, and operates 178 wholly owned manufacturing sites, 41 joint ventures, 53 customer centers and sales offices and 27 technical centers in 39 countries. Regional headquarters are located in Paris, Tokyo and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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.