JSAE Automotive Engineering Exposition 2014: Parts Suppliers (2)

Automotive climate control unit and EPS both sharable among different vehicle models



 The Automotive Engineering Exposition 2014 was held on May 21 to 23, 2014, organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan (JSAE). This report introduces parts suppliers' exhibits other than the electric and hybrid vehicle components and technologies that were reported in the previous report.

 Improving fuel efficiency of gasoline-fueled vehicles was one of the main themes at the exposition. Many suppliers displayed ultra-small turbochargers, electric superchargers, exhaust heat recovery systems and high-ignitability spark plugs. Transmissions and electric power steering (EPSs) that are designed to meet new requirements were also exhibited.

 Other exhibits included parts and technologies which meet requirements of automakers' modular strategy. NSK displayed an EPS that can be shared globally among different models. Denso also exhibited the world-first automotive climate control unit for common use among different models.

Related reports:

JSEA Automotive Engineering Exposition 2014: Parts Suppliers (1) (posted in June 2014)
JSEA Automotive Engineering Exposition 2014: new OEM powertrain technologies (posted in June 2014)
JSAE Automotive Engineering Exposition 2014: OEM driver assistance systems (posted in June 2014)
Tokyo Motor Show 2013: Suppliers display safety systems and new lighting (posted in December 2013)

New equipment and system to improve gasoline fuel efficiency

High-ignitability spark plugs

 High-speed mixed air flows and high voltages are caused in gasoline engine cylinders by fast EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation), lean combustion, turbocharger, etc. NGK and Denso each exhibited high-ignitability spark plugs being developed to cope with those harsh environments in cylinders.


A high-ignitability spark plug A high-ignitability spark plug
A high-ignitability spark plug for high boosted engines exhibited by NGK. The L-shaped edge at the bottom is the ground electrode with the central electrode directly above. A high-ignitability spark plug with a flow guide plate exhibited by Denso. The projection at the left bottom of the "development" plug, left, is the flow guide plate.


NGK High-ignitability spark plug for high boosted engines  The cylinders in a downsized turbocharged engine are subject to fast flow of air-fuel mixture and high discharge voltage. This results in early electrode wear. The company increased the size of the precious metal chip in the ground electrode (see photo) and changed the welding method to prevent the chip from falling.
 Sparks are often prone to a phenomenon called "flash-over" where sparks are discharged at the upper part of the plug rather than between the central electrode and the ground electrode. NGK increased the insulator length by 7.7mm to prevent flash-overs.
Denso High-Ignitability spark plug with flow guide plate  It is thought that the air flow velocity inside a cylinder in a gasoline engine will increase as faster EGR and leaner combustion technologies are introduced. If the ground electrode of a spark plug is placed in such a way it blocks the air flow, it may stagnate air-fuel mixture around the central electrode and affect ignitability. (The direction of the ground electrode is not controlled at the engine assembly line.)
 Denso developed a "flow guide plate" to prevent blocked flow. It directs air flow to the central electrode regardless of the relative position of the ground electrode. This maintains the designed ignitability of the plug. Denso plans to commercialize the new plug in the latter half of the 2010s.


Heat collectors (exhaust heat recovery systems) and EGR coolers

 Approximately 25% of the energy generating in an engine is actually used for driving and the remaining 75% is ejected unused. Yutaka Giken and Calsonic Kansei each presented a system that improves fuel efficiency by utilizing the thermal energy more efficiently.


Heat collector and EGR cooler Exhaust heat recovery device
Heat collector and EGR cooler
exhibited by Yutaka Giken
Exhaust heat recovery device
exhibited by Calsonic Kansei
EGR cooler
EGR cooler exhibited by Calsonic Kansei


Yutaka Giken Heat collector/
EGR cooler
 The heat collector directs the exhaust gas through the warm-up passage while the engine is warming up and heats the Long Life Coolant (LLC: antifreezing liquid to cool an engine) in the heat exchanger core. This helps faster engine warm-up and reduces time required before a start-stop system becomes functional. The system not only increases the fuel efficiency throughout the year but also increases the heater performance and prevents fuel efficiency from falling during winter.
 When the coolant temperature rises to a predetermined value, the system switches the valve and redirects exhaust gas flow to the regular passage. This prevents the output performance of the exhaust system from falling.
 Yutaka Giken has also developed a next-generation EGR cooler (see photo) by applying the heat exchanger core technology of the heat collector. The new EGR cooler has the same structure as the warm-up passage of the heat collector. It is about 50% smaller in volume compared to the conventional products.
Calsonic Kansei Exhaust heat recovery device/
EGR cooler
 Calsonic Kansei exhibited a thermal management system. One of the subsystems exhibited by the company was an exhaust heat recovery device that recovers heat from exhaust gas and increases warm-up performance and fuel efficiency.
 The company has developed a world-first Vortex Generator (VG) fin. It minimizes the resistance of exhaust gas flow and generates an ideal longitudinal vortex that increases the heat exchanging efficiency. A bypass (exhaust gas passage during a non-recovery phase) is integrated with the heat exchanger. The company will start production of the exhaust heat recovery device in 2017.
 In January 2014, Calsonic Kansei announced the commercialization of one of the world's smallest EGR coolers using the VG fin. Its commercial production has already started. The EGR cooler was exhibited at the JSAE exposition as part of the thermal management system.

 (Note) T.Rad and Sango, suppliers of exhaust heat recovery systems that are fitted on Toyota's Aqua and other hybrid vehicles, did not exhibit their recovery systems at the JSAE exposition. T.Rad exhibited its EGR cooler based on the same principle.


Compact turbochargers and electric superchargers


Turbocharger components Electric supercharger
Turbocharger components for passenger cars with less than 1.0-liter piston displacement exhibited by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Electric supercharger exhibited by Valeo


Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ultra-compact turbocharger  Downsizing gasoline engines and adding turbocharger is one way to meet CO2 emission standards. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is developing an ultra-compact turbocharger to achieve further downsizing and also for use in small-size vehicles driven by engines with less than 1.0-liter displacement. The turbocharger has impellers that are more than 20% smaller in diameter than the conventional ones. MHI is enhancing its lineup of small turbochargers.
 The displayed turbocharger components will be used in new engines being developed by automakers. Their market launch will be after several years.
Valeo Electric supercharger  Unlike the conventional turbochargers, an electric supercharger responds instantly without a turbo lag. An electric supercharger enables a substantial downsizing. It also achieves 8 to 10% reduction in fuel consumption by the effect of downsizing assuming power supply from a 12V onboard battery. Valeo has developed superchargers which are compatible with 24V battery. The company is also developing another supercharger that is compatible with 48V battery. A European automaker plans to fit the electric supercharger in premium cars in 2015.



All-new transmissions and components

 Honda announced a production model of the all-new Acura TLX at the New York International Auto Show in April 2014. Honda also announced that the 2.4-liter engine will be mated with the world's first 8-speed DCT transmission fitted with a torque converter. It is said that Honda aims to offer sporty sporty maneuverability and the pleasure of driving for the Acura models.

 The torque converter for the 8-speed DCT transmission will be supplied by Yutaka Giken. The twin damper for the lock-up clutch of the torque converter will be supplied by FCC.


Aisin Seiki's 6-speed AT High torque capacity 6-speed MT
Aisin Seiki's 6-speed AT for heavy-duty pickups (photo by courtesy of the exhibitor) High torque capacity 6-speed MT for RWD
exhibited by Aisin AI
Full-toroidal CVT discs Twin damper for lock-up clutch
Full-toroidal CVT discs, on the right and left, and roller, in the center, exhibited by Univance Twin damper for lock-up clutch used in the torque converter for Honda's 8-speed DCT exhibited by FCC


Aisin Seiki 6-speed AT for heavy-duty pickups  Aisin Seiki has developed an all-new 6-speed automatic transmission that meets market needs for high torque capacity and high fuel efficiency for pickup trucks in North America. The AT is used on Chrysler's Ram 1500/2500/3500 (Class 2 and Class 3 trucks in North America) since 2013.
 The torque capacity was increased substantially to a class top level without changing the overall size of the transmission. This was attained by the elimination of the one-way clutch, reduction of the drag torque with improved friction material, and the development of torque converter with high torsion damper for high torque capacities.
 The input torque was increased to 1,300Nm from 765Nm of the conventional AT, the gross combination weight (GCW, combined weight of the truck and the trailer) was increased to 19,080kg from 11,810kg, and the maximum PTO (Power Take-Off) torque was increased to 399Nm from 183Nm.
Aisin AI High torque capacity 6-speed MT for RWD vehicle  This is the 6-speed manual transmission for RWD vehicles. It is fitted on the Toyota Tacoma pickup truck and the Fortuner IMV series SUV. Input reduction is a commonly used mechanism in manual transmissions (the speed of engine rotation is reduced before reaching the manual gearbox). The MT exhibited by Aisin AI has an output reduction mechanism (the engine speed is reduced at the output end of the gearbox). Between the two mechanisms, the gearbox requires a smaller torque  in an output reduction mechanism.
 The company has achieved 5% weight reduction by using the output reduction mechanism. At the same time, Aisin AI achieved a 35% wider gear ratio (1st speed: 5.232, 6th speed: 0.728) over the previous mechanism (4.171 to 0.799). This has led to better driving performance in low speeds and higher fuel efficiency in high speeds.
Univance Discs & rollers forfull-toroidal CVT  Univance announced the development of technology for mass-producing discs and rollers in a full-toroidal CVT. The new technology was jointly developed with Torotrak, a U.K. corporation that holds numerous patents and intellectual property rights for the CVT system. A substantial cost reduction was achieved by leveraging Univance's thermal treatment, surface modification and precision machining technologies. The new components are intended for high-end vehicles and Univance will propose them to automakers and transmission manufacturers.
 A full-toroidal CVT transmission uses discs and rollers for power transmission and gear shifting. A fewer parts are used which leads to a more compact and lightweight mechanism. It also provides direct gear-shifting response to the accelerator pedal operation.
Yutaka Giken Torque Converter for the 8-speed DCT  Yutaka Giken supplies torque converters for the 8-speed DCT mated with the 2.4-liter engine in Honda's all-new Acura TLX sold in North America. It is the world's first 8-speed DCT fitted with a torque converter. It provides a sporty driving of responsive gear-shifting and smooth starting and low-speed driving.
FCC Dampers for lock-up clutches  FCC supplies twin dampers for lock-up clutches in Yutaka Giken's torque converters described above. The dampers have a low spring constant (softer spring) and absorb impacts more effectively. This results in a broader lock-up range and contributes to higher fuel efficiency.

(Note) Honda's Fit Hybrid and the Acura RLX Hybrid launched in North American markets are fitted with a 7-speed DCT. But they are not fitted with a torque converter as the models start in electirc modes.



Steer-by-wire backup system

NTN's mechanical clutch unit
NTN's mechanical clutch unit for next-generation steering systems. The exposed parts is the roller clutch and the electromagnetic clutch is located behind it to the left.


NTN Backup system for steer-by-wire systems  The backup system is fitted in the steer-by-wire system (direct adaptive steering). The backup system is named the mechanical clutch unit (MCU). Nissan mounted the MCF, for the first time in the world, on the Skyline, a.k.a. Infiniti Q50.
 The MCU consists of an electromagnetic clutch and a roller clutch. Normally, the clutch is disengaged when the circuit goes on. In an event of a circuit failure, the circuit goes off and the electromagnetic clutch is engaged. Then, the roller clutch is also engaged and a mechanical steering linkage is formed as a result. This is how the backup system works.
 The circuit is monitored by three independent microcomputers. When two or all microcomputers detect a circuit failure, the backup system is activated within 0.1 second.
 On a long perspective, 20 years from now for instance, the steer-by-wire system will become perfectly reliable and NTN anticipates that the backup system will be obsolete then.



Electric power steering


NSK's conventional EPS rack parallel type EPS
NSK's conventional EPS, on the left, and the high-function EPS for modular design, on the right JTEKT's rack parallel type EPS
Showa's DPA-EPS for C-segment vehicles, at the top, and BRA-EPS for D-segment vehicles, at the bottom, both supplied to Honda


NSK EPS to comply with OEMS' modular strategy  NSK has developed an electric power steering (EPS) that is designed commonly and yet can be used in different global models. Its commercial production has already started. The EPS can be shared among compact and midsize vehicles that are built with various specifications. According to NSK, the EPS provides an ideal solution for OEMs to roll out their vehicles globally.
 The heat-sink and other parts were made smaller and the part count was reduced by using a simpler ECU structure. As a result, the weight of the ECU was reduced by 24%. The motor was also made smaller and its weight was reduced by approximately 10%. According to NSK, this EPS must be designed to match the smallest vehicle size if it is to be shared with several models.
 The ECU that controls the EPS has more than twice as high operation performance as the conventional ECU. This helped the company develop software that could meet globally diversifying functional requirements including parking assist, lane keep, automated driving and other market needs.
JTEKT RP(rack parallel type)-EPS  The rack parallel type (RP)-EPS has the motor fitted in parallel to the rack-shaft and assists the shaft via belt. The motor and the reduction gear housing were made smaller in size to increase the freedom of fitting the EPS in a vehicle. The RP-EPS is still in the development phase (not used in vehicles yet).
 JTEKT produces rack direct drive type (RD)-EPS that directly assists the rack-shaft. Because of its high efficiency, the RD-EPS is used in many mid- to large-size vehicles. However, the motor and the rack are fitted to the same axle and this bulky design sometimes presents a fitting restriction.
Showa EPS with reduced disturbance  When a vehicle goes over ruts or joints in pavement, the surface roughness is felt as wandering or vibration on the steering wheel. This sometimes causes fear or unpleasant experience of drivers in vehicles which are fitted with conventional EPS.
 The EPS with reduced disturbances reduction control suppresses the unstable movement of the steering wheel by motor assist and eliminates fear or unpleasant feelings of a driver. Showa plans to commercialize the EPS in 2017 if all goes as planned.
 The disturbance suppressing function is available in some foreign automakers' vehicles. According to Showa, the accuracy of control has been improved and the company is developing its EPS with the hope of fitting it in vehicles sold in Japan as well.
 Showa supplies the DPA-EPS (Dual-pinion Assist Electric Power Steering) chiefly for Honda's C-segment vehicles, and the BRA-EPS (Belt Rack Assist Electric Power Steering) also for Honda's D-segment vehicles.
 Showa's research and development efforts for steering systems are aimed at pleasant experience, fun and peace of mind. These attributes are numerically rated and their marketability is verified on a steering feel simulator. The company plans to reflect the outcome, in or about 2016, on the new versions of the two types of DPA- and BRA-EPS mentioned above.
 Showa intends to develop EPS that will reduce the sense of discomfort, increase pleasant feeling and deliver sensation similar to that from the ever popular hydraulic power steering system.



Automotive climate control unit to be shared across models

 Denso has developed the world's first automotive climate control unit that can be fitted across different vehicle models from compact to luxury cars. It is fitted on Toyota's all-new Harrier launched in December 2013, and in Toyota's Noah, a.k.a. Voxy, launched in January 2014.


A side view of Denso's automotive climate control unit for common use across vehicle models. The vertical part to the right is the evaporator. The heater core is shown at the center.


Denso Automotive climate control unit to be shared across vehicle models  Denso has developed the world's first automotive climate unit that can be fitted across vehicle models in B- to D-segment. Conventional climate control units varied in size and mechanism among vehicle models. Denso has developed components such as the air-mix door, servo motor and blower fan. They were reduced in size by 20% compared with Denso's conventional products. This has enabled standardization across vehicles. For example, the number of servo motors was reduced from several to only one after the components of the new climate control unit were standardized.
 Denso succeeded in reducing the size and weight while increasing performance of the new unit.
 In order to adjust air conditioning performance depending on the size of vehicles, Denso expands or decreases only the width of the climate control unit. Furthermore, the company will adjust output of motors and add necessary functions, such as "controlling the heating/cooling of the driver area only", to the unit.
 The new A/C unit can be fitted in eco-cars as well. For instance, the evaporator in the climate control case in vehicles equipped with a start-stop system may be replaced with a cold storage evaporator. The heater core in electric or hybrid vehicles may be replaced with a heat pump type air conditioning system.

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