Cost Continues to Top Automotive Industry Challenges, Fuel Economy, Technology Rise in Importance According to DuPont Survey

Mar 02, 2001, 00:00 ET from DuPont Automotive

    TROY, Mich., March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- While cost reduction continues to top
 the list of challenges facing automotive engineers, fuel economy and
 technology issues are rising, according to automotive engineers responding to
 the seventh annual DuPont Automotive survey.  Safety and emissions regulations
 remain in the top five challenges, slipping a little in relative urgency, the
 survey indicates.
     More than half of the automotive engineers surveyed also predict the 42-
 volt electrical system will be introduced in the Americas in three to five
 years, and nearly half believe telematics will reach 25-percent penetration in
 the Americas market in 3-8 years, according to the survey.  Also, 25 percent
 of engineers predict fuel cells to be the most likely alternate-powered
 vehicles in 5 years, according to the survey.
     "The balance between cost containment and new technology that delights
 consumers is the dynamic that drives this industry," said Jim Weigand, vice
 president sales and marketing, DuPont Engineering Polymers - Americas.  "And
 even though cost remains the number one challenge, we see its relative
 importance against emerging technologies waning.  This bodes well for the
 industry as we converge to deliver new technologies and overall value that
 consumers desire.
     "We see the dawning of a number of solid, technology-based opportunities
 to help automakers differentiate vehicles," said Weigand.  "And like many of
 our partners in the auto industry, we are focused to deliver quick, value
 enhancing solutions to help enable technical breakthrough."
     42-Volt Technology
     DuPont recently formed a 42-volt technology team to focus on the high-end
 DuPont technologies that could help enable the dual-voltage system, which is
 needed to meet vehicles' ever-growing power demands.
     "DuPont leads the industry in thermoplastic encapsulation and solenoid
 technology and we offer a broad range of high-performance materials for E/E
 components able to withstand heat, hot water and other extreme environments,"
 said Dr. John C. Solenberger, development planning manager.  "When you add
 those to the EMI shielding and translucent resins, wire enamels and thick-film
 copper for DC-DC converters, we are positioned to truly help deliver this
 needed technology."
     DuPont also plays a key role in telematics through Green Tape(TM)
 materials from DuPont Microcircuit Materials.  Currently these materials are
 used in Ericsson's Bluetooth Radio Circuit to incorporate RF functions for
 wireless local area network in a single module.  "Green Tape(TM) enables
 wireless designers to easily integrate functional components to create cost-
 effective, highly-reliable modules," said Mary Ellen Gustainis, automotive
 manager for Microcircuit Materials.  "DuPont has a unique opportunity to
 leverage our experience in the telecommunications industry, to help the
 automotive industry develop wireless telematic devices."
     Fuel Cells
     DuPont also has formed a DuPont Fuel Cells business and has invested in a
 multi-million dollar Fuel Cell Technology Center to pursue growth in the
 emerging proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell market.  Building on its
 longstanding market leadership in Nafion(R) perfluorinated ion exchange
 membranes, and expertise in polymers, coatings and electrochemistry, DuPont
 will also be partnering with other companies to develop PEM fuel cell stack
 components, including membrane electrode assemblies and conductive plates.
 DuPont is developing technology for direct methanol, reformed fuel and
 hydrogen fuel cells.
     "Our science company heritage and focus on customer needs allows us to use
 our knowledge to help solve many of the industry's most pressing challenges,
 such as meeting California Air Resources Board LEV II evaporative fuel
 emission standards and delivering improved vehicle safety and security," said
      The Automotive Consulting Group, Ann Arbor, Mich., conducted the DuPont
 Automotive survey of automakers and suppliers.
     With world headquarters in Troy, Mich., DuPont Automotive offers more than
 100 product lines to the global automotive industry, including plastics,
 advanced composites, finishes, fibers, fabricated products, refrigerants,
 specialty chemicals and lubricants.  DuPont worldwide automotive sales
 currently exceed $6 billion.
     DuPont is a science company, delivering science-based solutions that make
 a difference in people's lives in food and nutrition; health care; apparel;
 home and construction; electronics; and transportation.  Founded in 1802, the
 company operates in 70 countries and has 94,000 employees.
     Green Tape(TM) is a trademark of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.
     Nafion(R) is a registered trademark of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and

SOURCE DuPont Automotive