Delphi Eager to Leave Bankruptcy Behind, Build Connections to Auto Industry’s Future

4/22/10

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produce the connectivity infrastructure necessary to support electric vehicles, Delphi has a head start—working with, as Owens says, the “second, third, fourth, and in some cases fifth generation” of the technology, which includes inverters, converters, and systems to manage the state of health of the cells in the entire battery pack.

It’s not that other companies cannot produce these things, Owens says. The technology certainly exists today to plug your car into a standard home outlet. The trouble is, none of the equipment is “automotive grade” yet.

Delphi_charge_coupler_handles“That’s where companies like ours come in,” Owens says. “A charger’s a great example. You’ve got a lot of charger companies in the world, and I don’t want to say anything negative about them, but they don’t specifically design to automotive standards.”

Chargers for your laptop love a vibration-free, room-temperature, dry environment. Which works fine in your home. In your car, they just won’t last—at least, not for the five, 10, or 15 years you’d like your car to keep running.

The industry has “seen this before,” Owens says, most recently with in-dash or portable navigation systems, or even simple LCD displays. If they won’t work in temperatures that can range from -40 degrees to 125 degrees, they’re not good for the rough-and-tumble, real-life environment of your automobile.

“We’ll go through the same cycle here,” Owens says. “And companies like us that have been through that cycle can help accelerate and give an advantage to some of those companies that don’t have that experience.”

So, Delphi does battery-pack management, devices that can power your car with 300 volts, then step it down to 12 volts to run your cell phone—or chargers that can slowly juice your car overnight, or can power it right away in a quick burst.

None of these projects are really a conscious attempt to diversify, Owens says. They’re … Next Page »

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