The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Nexteer Automotive invests $12 million to meet demand for quieter and smoother EPS systems


Lower noise systems will increase comfort for drivers of hybrid vehicles

Paris, December 7, 2012: 2012 – Nexteer Automotive is investing around $12 million in new test and validation facilities that will help produce even quieter and smoother electric power steering systems for hybrid/electric vehicles. The investment will support the company’s plans to leverage further technology breakthroughs for aggressive global growth.

Vehicles are becoming much quieter to drive, particularly those that fit stop-start systems and hybrid/electric powertrains. With little or no engine noise to mask the sound of other systems, noise reduction has become more important with many manufacturers specifying strict targets for systems in new cars. “Vehicle manufacturers are demanding more refined, near-silent electric power steering systems to ensure driver comfort,” said Paul Poirel, Chief Engineer, Nexteer Automotive Europe. “The advanced testing facilities will give our engineers new insights into the interaction of the electric power steering with other chassis systems that will enable us to give customers an even more comfortable driving experience. Our continuing investment in noise and vibration testing will allow vehicle manufacturers to resolve NVH issues early in development, reducing development costs, warranty costs and increasing perceived quality.”

The most common sources of noise on some EPS system are squeaks, rattle, rotational noise and reversal clunk , which occurs when the steering wheel changes direction quickly. Nexteer’s development and production processes systematically eliminate these issues to produce steering systems with minimum noise and vibration. Nexteer’s high precision mechanical designs and product specific control software enhance the driving experience by minimizing the radiation and transmission of noise and vibration.

“We are involved in the design of the vehicle from the very start, collecting data from real world trials two to three years before production starts,” said Abdellatif Boudia,NVH manager and EPS system engineer, Nexteer Automotive Europe. “Feeding the information back into our development enables us to identify and design-out issues early on with the right mechanical compromise and software solution. This ensures that the steering’s low noise performance continues throughout and beyond the car's warranty.”

Nexteer’s precise control of mechanical tolerances and design/validation of  the electric motor allows the company to minimize rotational noise, preventing noises and vibrations that can disturb the driver. It also supplies market-specific versions of its systems to customers, tuned mechanically and electronically to suit the local conditions and preferences. In addition, Nexteer embeds some noise cancellation algorithms in its software.

Nexteer also conducts daily audits, checking its steering systems on a specialist test bench to ensure they deliver stable performance.

The investment in Nexteer’s testing facilities in Saginaw will also continue to improve the correlation between the company’s bench testing and in-car data acquisition. The company’s Vehicle Evaluation Center will undergo an expansion to allow for additional real-world simulations.

Nexteer’s in-house R&D, testing and validation capabilities provide the advantage of fast product upgrades. This complete integration provides a real benefit to global customers in terms of responsiveness and service.