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Popular Science Awards GM Technology `Best of What's New'

DETROIT - November 8, 2002; Popular Science magazine has named General Motors' Magnetic Ride Control the winner of its prestigious "Best of What's New" award in the Automotive Technology category for 2002.

The award recognizes products or technologies that represent a significant step forward in the category. GM's Magnetic Ride Control, the worlds fastest reacting suspension system, took vehicle handling to a new level with the introduction of this leading-edge technology on the 2002 Cadillac STS. It is now also available on the 2003 Chevrolet Corvette.

Magnetic Ride Control is a vehicle suspension control system that uses a revolutionary damper design to control wheel and body motion with innovative magneto-rheological fluid-based actuators. By controlling the current to an electromagnetic coil inside the piston of the damper, the fluid's consistency can be changed, resulting in real-time, continuous variable control of vehicle damping. As a result, drivers feel a greater sense of security, with smooth, well-controlled ride motions, and more precise and responsive handling, particularly on uneven surfaces and during challenging maneuvers.

The Magnetic Ride Control system helps maintain the maximum amount of tire patch in contact with the road. The system isolates and smoothes the action of each tire, resulting in less bouncing, vibration and noise. At all speeds, on all road surfaces and twisting variations, the system integrates with ABS and traction control to keep the vehicle balanced and poised.

Magnetic Ride Control is the fastest reacting suspension system in the world, responding in one millisecond. Using a simple combination of sensors, as well as steering wheel and braking inputs from the driver, the system's onboard computer reacts to wheel inputs by sending an electronic signal to coils in each damper, changing the damping fluid's flow properties. This fluid contains randomly dispersed iron particles that, in the presence of a magnetic field, align themselves into structures adopting a near-plastic state. This action regulates the damping properties of the monotube struts, capable of changing up to 1,000 times per second.

Engineers at GM Research & Development laboratories, and later with experts at Delphi Automotive Systems, explored ways to reduce or even eliminate the inherent restrictions of valve-based damping systems. The result is GM's revolutionary system that eliminates electro-mechanical valves entirely. It is the only system without electro-mechanical valves and small moving parts.

Magnetic Selective Ride Control debuted as standard equipment in the 50th anniversary Chevrolet Corvette for the 2003 model year. The selective ride control system features tour and sport suspension settings. The tour mode, with its extended range of damping capability, is so capable that it alone provides all the control an everyday driver needs. The sport mode provides an extra measure of feel and control for performance enthusiasts who want to take their cars on the track.

This leading-edge suspension technology offers an expanded range of soft-to-firm damping capabilities, and yields greater levels of tuning precision. Vehicle dynamics engineers developing vehicles with Magnetic Ride Control can fine-tune ride and handling characteristics to new and unprecedented levels of specificity.

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