Autoliv Merges Stability Control and Airbag Electronics

STOCKHOLM, Sweden /BUSINESS WIRE/ -- Autoliv Inc., a leading supplier of automotive safety systems, has been awarded development and supply contracts for a new safety electronics technology where the vehicle stability-sensing function is integrated into the airbag control unit. This world-first electronics architecture will reduce complexity and provide substantial cost savings for these safety systems.

So far, Autoliv has not been active in the booming electronic-stability-control (ESC) market. However, the company is now entering the market with a superior technology that will appear in new vehicle models, starting model year 2009.

"Many vehicle manufacturers are interested in our new cost-saving technology, and other suppliers will definitely try to follow us as soon as they can", said Steve Fredin, Autoliv's vice president of engineering. "This contract for our new electronic architecture could therefore mark the starting point of a trend where active safety systems, such as stability control, will be integrated with passive safety systems, such as airbags and seatbelts."

Background Information
In the U.S., rollovers take 10,000 lives every year and account for one quarter of all traffic fatalities. In response, a rapidly increasing number of new vehicles are being equipped with stability-control systems to help the driver maintain control and avoid accidents. Many new vehicles also have side curtain airbags to help protect occupants when the driver's maneuvers exceed the limitations of the stability-control system and a rollover is inevitable. These curtain airbags can help prevent occupant ejection (when the risk for fatalities exceeds 80%). Curtain airbags also reduce injuries by cushioning head impacts to the B-pillar (i.e. the pillar between the doors) or other hard parts of the vehicle interior.

Currently, the active and passive safety systems have individual sensors and electronic control units (ECU). The central sensing unit of the stability-control system and the airbag ECU are both located in the middle of the vehicle, close to the vehicle's center of gravity, and contain not only redundant sensors but also redundant microprocessors, circuit boards, power supplies, and housings. By eliminating these redundant components, material cost can be reduced. In addition, car producers can reduce their manufacturing costs for wiring and installation thanks to the less complicated electronic architecture provided by Autoliv's new integrated system.

Autoliv Inc. develops and manufactures automotive safety systems for all major automotive manufacturers in the world. Together with its joint ventures, Autoliv has 80 facilities with nearly 39,000 employees in 30 vehicle-producing countries. In addition, the company has development and engineering centers in six countries around the world, including 20 test tracks, more than any other automotive safety supplier. Sales in 2005 amounted to $6.2 billion. The company's shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and its Swedish Depository Receipts on the OM Stockholm Stock Exchange.

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