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Lighting Products Improves Vehicle Fuel Economy

Global tier-one automotive supplier Hella KGaA Hueck + Co. has developed a number of automotive electronics and lighting products to help improve vehicle fuel economy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The products are designed to support automakers' energy management objectives.

Hella’s portfolio of fuel-efficient and CO2-reducing technologies includes:

  • “Intelligent” battery sensors
  • Automatic start-stop controls, including battery sensors and voltage stabilizers
  • Electric vacuum pumps
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Xenon and LED (light-emitting diode) lighting systems

“At Hella, we offer automakers a variety of solutions to help them meet future federally-mandated gas-mileage standards,” notes Dr. Martin Fischer, president of Hella Electronics Corporation. “The new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards require automotive manufactures to boost mileage efficiency by 40 percent in the next decade. But no single technology is the answer.”

Fischer detailed four recently introduced Hella energy-management technologies including:

  • Intelligent Battery Sensors (IBS) are the size of a postage stamp and monitor battery health. In production in Europe for the BMW 1 Series, a small luxury car that made its North American debut in March 2008, IBS systems track energy output from numerous electrical devices, along with current, voltage and temperature, to prevent total battery discharge and optimize the charging process. They help reduce energy consumption and trim CO2 emissions by nearly 4 grams per mile.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) systems adjust vehicle speeds automatically based on the distance and relative velocity of a vehicle ahead. In production on the 2008-model Chrysler 300 sedan, Hella’s ACC helps reduce CO2 emissions and improve fuel economy by smoothly regulating vehicle speeds.
  • Electric Vacuum Pumps are part of braking-boosting systems for vehicles equipped with diesel and six-cylinder engines to increase fuel efficiency. Hella’s systems are in production for the Cadillac CTS, Cadillac STS and Saturn Sky roadster. Mechanically-powered brake-vacuum boosters, which are connected to the engine belt, run constantly. But, in many cases, the vacuum boost is only required during engine warm-up periods. Hella’s pump turns off after engine warm-up, trimming CO2 emissions by 4.0 to 6.4 grams per mile.
  • Automatic Start-Stop Systems turn off an engine when a vehicle is stationary. To restart the motor, the driver only needs to engage the clutch (for manual transmission cars). A Hella start-stop system was first installed as standard equipment on most 2007 BMW 1 Series cars (except for the 130i). Combined with BMW’s other weight-saving and power management systems, Hella’s start-stop technology helped the 1 Series cut emissions by 21 percent, while boosting fuel economy by 24 percent.
  • Hella’s xenon and LED headlamps also help reduce energy consumption. Able to double light output, Hella’s xenon headlamps use about 35 watts, which is approximately one third less energy than a typical 55-watt halogen bulb. A vehicle equipped with a combination of xenon headlights and halogen brake lights can achieve an energy savings of 25 percent compared to full-halogen lighting systems.

LED daytime running lights not only improve road safety, but can reduce fuel consumption by an estimated 0.0847 gallons per 100 miles when compared to halogen running lamps. Hella also recently announced its first production LED headlamps for the 2009 Cadillac Escalade Platinum edition. Cadillac’s LED headlamps offer brighter lighting than conventional headlamps for improved nighttime driving, while providing a distinctive design signature for the front of the luxury sport-utility vehicle.

“There’s an ever-growing interest in CO2 reduction,” Fischer added. “Intelligent electronics and lighting solutions from Hella contribute to an increase in efficient power generation as well as a reduction in energy consumption. These technologies, already part of Hella’s vast product portfolio, support the main theme of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) 2008 World Congress –- ‘A Climate for Change’.”

Hella, a global supplier, develops and manufactures components and systems for lighting and electronics for the automotive industry, including driver-assistance systems to enhance safety and comfort. In addition, its joint-venture companies produce complete vehicle modules, air-conditioning systems and vehicle electric systems.

One of the world's largest companies selling automotive aftermarket parts and accessories, Hella also has its own sales companies and partners in more than 100 countries. Annual sales for the Hella Group total $4.8 billion.

Hella is one of the 100 largest industrial companies in Germany. More than 25,000 people are employed in 70 production facilities, production subsidiaries and joint-venture companies. More than 3,000 Hella engineers and technicians work in research and development. Customers include all of the world’s leading automakers and system manufacturers, as well as the automotive aftermarket.

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