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TRW Steering Wheel Enhancements Provide A Personal Touch

ASCHAFFENBURG, Germany, May 5, 2009 -- TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. has introduced a range of steering wheels to enhance driver comfort and provide customers with a more personalised vehicle interior. The new range includes heated steering wheels, coloured wheels and seamless leather steering wheels.

Jaime Fernandez, director product planning, TRW Global Occupant Safety Systems explained: "Steering wheels are becoming more and more a multi-functional design object where attractive appearance, feel and, moreover, comfort are increasingly important. Having been able to choose only the colour of your vehicle previously, TRW now allows you to customize the inside as well."

To improve driver comfort, TRW has introduced heated wooden steering wheels in addition to its existing heated leather range. The wheels are activated by a switch which quickly heats the rim of the wheel to provide a pleasant level of warmth. The electric energy is conducted by means of thin metal heating wires placed directly beneath the wheel surface. These heating wires are arranged so that they are not felt by the driver and will not disturb the leather or wooden surfaces. A thermo sensor in combination with a controller results in a constant temperature on the wheel surface.

"The steering wheel rims can be heated within approximately five minutes from -20 degrees C to +25 degrees C (-4 degrees F to 68 degrees F). Several heating circuits inside the wheel provide a homogeneous temperature distribution," continued Fernandez.

TRW's heated steering wheels are now in production with a number of global vehicle manufacturers.

TRW has developed bi coloured steering wheels -- a new addition to its current range of coloured steering wheel options. Both two-tone and one-tone variations use coatings and colour pastes to match the polyurethane steering wheel to the colour of the passenger compartment. Coloured steering wheels also provide vehicle manufacturers with a more affordable solution as they use foam instead of leather to significantly reduce costs.

TRW has also developed seam-free leather steering wheels that are unblemished by stitching and offer the driver a smoother feel. The leather is fixed to the steering wheel through a groove on the back of the wheel.

Fernandez added: "In addition to enhancing driver comfort, seam-free steering wheels help to drive down costs as the manual labour required for the leather stitching is replaced by a single automatic process."

TRW's seam-free steering wheels are due to start production at the end of this year with a major global vehicle manufacturer.