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Electronic: Automotive’s Performance Driver

Electronic: Automotive’s Performance Driver

Run Silent, Run Sweet- A host of technical innovations and refinements has reduced car noise to unprecedented low levels. But getting rid of all vehicle noise is not the Holy Grail for Noise/Vibration/Harshness engineers -drivers still need and want and even crave auditory feedback. "Certain sounds, when you 're accelerating, give you a powerful engine sound," says Chris Kolarik, an NVH engineer at Ford Motor Co. (Dearborn, MI)."We don't want to quiet or mute those." In fact, by selectively quieting only some sounds, engineers are now creating completely new vehicle sound "signatures " that car and truck buyers are known to like. For its 2004 F-150 pickup, for example, Fordcrafted what Kolarik calls a "powerful, tough truck sound." Other Ford vehicles have their own unique, individually crafted, market-focused sounds.

Chips Continue to Help Air Quality- Electronics has played a big role in slashing fuel consumption over the past few decades, bringing with it the benefit of improved air quality. Though some outside observers contend the improvements wrought by electronics have reached the point of diminishing returns, many in the industry contend that additional improvements are still possible. Automotive fuel consumption is a big factor in improved air quality, which is the logical result that comes when less fuel is burned. Since 1970,the global levels of carbon monoxide, sulphur, and particulates in the air have all dropped significantly, ranging from 25 to 75%. The only air pollutant that has increased is nitrous oxide.

Move to 42V puts- The move to 42 volts (42V)as an electrical system architecture for cars is a technology that holds immense promise. And many experts agree it could ultimately have a profound impact on automobile design and feature sets. But the reality today is that cost/benefit concerns have dramatically slowed 42V system development, implementation, and introduction plans, especially in non-hybrid vehicles. "The motivating factors behind 42V systems have not changed very much," says Paul Nicastri, a staff technical specialist at Ford. "Electrical loads are still going to be increasing, and there are a number of features that function better at 42 volts. But the primary issue for everyone is cost.

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