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

4/22/10

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simply leveraging Delphi’s core capabilities to enter additional markets around the automobile. If the electric grid did not touch your car, Delphi probably would not bother.

Randy Sumner, director of hybrid vehicle business development at Delphi, shows one of the company’s new products—a portable charging unit that plugs into your car and a regular outlet. Delphi is out “beating the pavement trying to sell them to customers,” he says. “They’re all going to need them.”

Fortunately, Sumner says, this won’t be like cell phones, where every model has a different, proprietary charging device. The SAE’s industry standard, known by the prosaic name J1772, defines what all portable charging units will look like.

But when it comes to a different kind of connections—the ones that bring all your portable gadgets into your car—Delphi’s John Yurtin, a data connectivity specialist, is downright giddy about the future. He smiles while he talks in a way that makes it sound as if he’s laughing while he describes the technology that he’s developing, and loves. It all started with the iPod, he says. Customers wanted to connect their music storage devices to their car sound systems. So, Delphi added USB ports in automobiles.

DelphicomboUSB PortIt’s Yurtin’s job to think of some of the “little things” that go with that connectivity. “OK, I put a USB port down in my center console,” Yurtin says. “Well, it’s dark down there, so what do I do? I add some LEDs and I get nice illumination around the port. Things like that.”

Next year, he says, we’ll see cars with slots for SD cards for uploading navigation data or backseat entertainment programs for the kids.

And after that, LDVS, which is a protocol for connecting different types of video screens. Cameras mounted on side-view mirrors, for example, will all be connected together with LDVS for easy viewing by the driver on a dashboard-mounted screen.

What about the argument that all these consumer gadgets in the car are just distracting people from driving? Yurtin laughs. “I believe it’s going to be the opposite,” he says. Once you plug in your iPod, you stick it in the glove box and forget about it—while controlling it from the steering wheel or by voice.

Yurtin clearly enjoys his job. “I’ve been on one of the most exciting product lines to come into the car,” he says, adding that through the bankruptcy process, Delphi did not slow down. “The data connectivity business was increasing.”

Kevin Quinlan, a vice president in the Powertrain Systems division of Delphi, says that the development pipeline never stopped during bankruptcy reorganization, and now the company is hitting the ground running.

“Yeah, we’re ready,” Quinlan says. “We’re pretty pumped about it, actually. We’re seeing good market response. It’s an exciting time.”

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