By-wire also offers important advantages for vehicle manufacturers. Elimination of mechanical systems could cut weight and could more easily enable automakers to switch a car from a left-hand-drive to right-hand-drive, so it could be sold in other countries.
The transition to steer-by-wire has been a long-awaited one. As far back as a decade ago, auto industry engineers looked forward to the addition of steer-by-wire and brake-by-wire technologies but hesitated because it was believed that 42V electrical architectures would be needed in order to make it happen. "You can't do steer-by-wire with a 12V system," one veteran industry engineer was quoted as saying in a 2001 Design News article. "For steer-by-wire, 42V is absolutely essential." At the time, engineers estimated that steer-by-wire would draw as much as 1.8kW, which they said would necessitate use of better alternators.
Infiniti did not say what changes had enabled the use of steer-by-wire in its cars, but the company did say it is not depending on the higher-voltage of hybrid electrical architectures to make it happen. "We've not announced what vehicles it will go into, but it has been demonstrated in a conventionally powered car, not a hybrid," Bazemore said. "So you can reasonably assume that's how we'll offer it."
Greg, the backup is absolutely required. While it is rare, I have been in a car where the power failed and the power steering stopped working. This was a hydralic system, and it was very hard to steer the car, but at least it could be done. Electrical systems are more likely to go out on a car, I would venture to guess, than the purely mechanical ones. Especially electrical systems that are digital.
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