Delphi Corp.'s Delphi Diesel Systems unit is looking to double its injector volume over the next three years as Euro 5 emissions controls come into play.
Overall, Diesel System revenues of E1.6 billion ($2 billion) in 2008 will rise to E2.4 billion ($3 billion), the company says, as some older diesel technology programs go out of production.
Delphi's solenoid-injector technology gets credit for most of the increased business, although some comes from its new direct-acting piezo injectors, Delphi Diesel Systems Director Jose Avila says. Both systems are manufactured in a 49-year-old factory complex in Blois, France.
Delphi's solenoid injectors won the business because they perform as well as the piezo injectors made by competitors Robert Bosch GmbH and Continental AG, yet they are cheaper, says strategy manager Pascal Dutfoy. The performance is needed if diesel engines are to meet the Euro 5 limits on oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulate emissions by September 2009.
The direct-acting piezo injectors, developed with Daimler AG for the Mercedes C220 CDi, cost 20%-25% more than solenoid injectors and about 10% more than the piezo injectors of competitors. “(But) you get performance you can't get with any other technology,” Avila says.
Delphi won its new business during the three years it has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy in North America.
“Delphi Diesel Systems is all based in Europe,” so it is somewhat insulated from its parent's troubles, says Avila. “Up to now, customers have been willing to work with us. But in the future, the customers expect us to move on.”
Bosch had a monopoly on common-rail injection systems for several years after its introduction on the Alfa Romeo 156 in 1997 and was the key supplier to Daimler.
Later, Siemens VDO, now part of Continental's automotive unit, and Delphi developed competitive systems. Japan's Denso Corp. also was an early adopter of common-rail diesel.
Several years before being acquired by Continental in 2007, Siemens VDO pioneered the piezo diesel injector.
In Europe, Denso's business essentially is limited to Toyota Motor Corp., so Delphi's market share gains in the next three years mainly will come from Bosch and Continental. Delphi has new business with Daimler and PSA Peugeot Citroen.
Delphi's new piezo-injector system on the C220 is important because it differs significantly from piezo-injection systems from Bosch and Continental.
The two German companies use hydraulics to lift and lower the needle valve in the injector, with the hydraulics activated by the movement of piezo ceramics that change size when an electric charge is introduced.
Delphi calls its system “direct acting” because the movement of the 3-in. (8-cm) piezo ceramic stack always is directly connected to the position of the needle, which allows the needle to move three times faster than the competition's, at the equivalent of 10 ft. (3 m) per second.
That allows the engine's electronic control unit to order as many as seven fuel injections per combustion cycle, with no delay between them. This speed and the fact the piezo can control how far it opens and how fast it closes means engine developers have more control over the combustion process.
The C-Class with the 4-cyl. 2.2L CDi engine has 7% more power than the previous 4-cyl. diesel, and the carbon-dioxide emissions only are 138 g/km, the equivalent of 43 mpg.
Avila says there is not much possibility of reducing the cost with higher volume, because the piezo ceramics are expensive and difficult for their supplier, Murata Mfg. Co. Ltd. in Japan, to manufacture. Over time, prices could drop as Murata learns new ways of production.
However, Delphi and some of its customers believe by using the technology they can develop engines that will require less-expensive aftertreatment to meet Euro 6 emissions rules in 2014, Avila says.
By tuning engines to produce less NOx or fewer particulates, they might be able to use smaller NOx traps or diesel particulate filters. For the C-Class, the engine was tuned for its power possibilities while reducing fuel consumption.
Delphi Diesel has four main patents on the technology.
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