2014 PACE Awards: Celebration Of Motor Technological Innovation

For twenty years the annual Automotive News PACE Awards have celebrated technological innovation in the automotive industry. This year 33 finalists will compete for awards recognizing noteworthy achievements in products, manufacturing processes, and information technology. This rundown of 2014's winners in the Product category illustrates what it takes to set the PACE.   

Autoliv Inc.: Green Airbag Inflator

The Green Airbag Inflator from Autoliv Inc. of Vargarda, Sweden is both noteworthy and newsworthy considering the still-ongoing explosive airbag scandal involving Takata Corporation. In Autoliv's airbags, toxic Sodium Azide used as a “pyrotechnic” explosive is replaced by environmentally friendly hydrogen, oxygen and argon gases. (image via Autoliv Inc.)

BASF Corp.: High-Gloss Black Interior Door Switch Bezels

Molded plastic bezels that surround interior switches take a lot of use and abuse but the automakers don't want it to show. Coating the bezels with scratch-resistant paint is costly, time-consuming and environmentally unfriendly. Ford charged BASF to find a solution and in response, the latter developed molded-in-color Ultramid® A3L polyamide resin bezels that were up to the challenge. (image via Manufacturing Engineering

BorgWarner Transmission Systems: Eco-launch Solenoid Valve

BorgWarner Transmission Systems of Auburn Hills, MI developed the Eco-launch Solenoid valve to help enable current automatic transmission designs to function well when paired with stop/start systems. Since these systems increase fuel economy from 3 to 10 percent, the Eco-launch Solenoid valve is a cost-effective solution that will allow automakers to expand their stop/start capabilities in a cost-effective manner. (image via Automotive News)

Continental Automotive: Pedestrian Protection Pressure Sensor

Continental's pressure sensor-based Pedestrian Protection System (PPS pSAT) was designed to help automakers meet upcoming standards intended to reduce injuries in pedestrian collisions. The system employs pressure sensors mounted inside vehicle bumpers that can detect accidents involving pedestrians and – within milliseconds –  lift the vehicle's hood and thereby deflect & distribute the force of the impact. (image via Continental Corporation)

Delphi Automotive: ErgoMate Connector

Delphi's ErgoMate Mechanical Assist System was designed to meet the challenges involved in assembling modern vehicles with complex and voluminous electrical systems. The ErgoMate connector uses a geared cam and slider that allows assembly workers to snap together bulky bundles of wiring with just a gentle push of one hand. (image via Delphi Automotive)

Dow Automotive Systems: BETAMATE Structural Adhesive

BETAMATE structural adhesives developed by Dow Automotive Systems were designed to replace welded joints and mechanical fasteners, thereby reducing the incidence of metal fatigue common to spot welds and fasteners. In addition, this new class of structural adhesives can join dissimilar and hard-to-weld materials including high-strength steel, aluminum and magnesium while providing much-improved seals against rust and corrosion. (image via Techonline India)    

Federal-Mogul Corp.: Lead-Free Bearings for Heavy-Duty Engines

Increased load capacity, greater durability and less lead released into the environment? That's win-win-win! Federal-Mogul Powertrain (a division of Federal-Mogul Holdings Corporation) has developed a new range of lead-free bearings that use a substrate made either from cast or sintered material. Not only are the new bearings lead-free, they also offer increased load capacity and wear resistance for heavy-duty engines. (image via WGNS Radio)

HELLA KGaA Hueck & Co.: LED Matrix Beam Headlights

Matrix Beam “glare-free high-beam” headlights from HELLA feature 25 individually controlled LEDs arranged in a matrix format. The LEDs adjust automatically to real-time traffic conditions, reducing glare for other drivers as different groups of LEDs are switched on and off based on traffic conditions. The resulting “intelligent lighting” technology offers an almost unlimited variety of lighting patterns that allow for continuous use of a vehicle's high-beams, maximizing visibility and vastly improving safety. (image via HELLA KGaA Hueck & Co.)

Robert Bosch GmbH: Spray Enhancements in Gasoline Direct Injection

Bosch is one of the pioneers of gasoline direct injection, which delivers higher torque at low speeds thereby enhancing driving enjoyment. Direct injection can also reduce fuel consumption by up to 15 percent while both drivability and fuel economy can be further improved upon through Bosch's fuel spray enhancement. By laser drilling the injection holes, a higher level of precision is achieved enabling particularly exact fuel mixture formation and cleaner combustion. (image via Bosch Media Service)

Schaeffler Group: Torque Converter with Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber

Schaeffler's innovative torque converter with centrifugal pendulum absorber (CPA) is in effect a reinvention of the converter and clutch system. In contrast to previous torque converters, the clutch function is performed by the torque converter turbine directly instead of via the use of a separate piston. The result is a significant reduction in weight, a smaller design envelope, and the capacity to implement innovative damping concepts without requiring additional space. (image via Schaeffler Germany)

Valeo: Back-Over Protection System

Backup cameras are proven life-savers; now a new system from Valeo takes backup protection to the next level. The Back-Over Protection System offers drivers a four-meter obstacle detection range while overcoming many of the signal absorption issues which affect ultrasonic systems. By providing the advantages of both ultrasonic park assist sensors and rear cameras, Valeo's system ensures added comfort and increased safety when drivers perform reversing maneuvers. (image via Auto Connected Car News

ZF Friedrichshafen AG: Nine-Speed Automatic Transmission

ZF Friedrichshafen AG has launched the world's first 9-speed automatic transmission for passenger cars with front-transverse drive; the model 9HP made its debut on the 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Designed with the thought of future upgrades, the 9HP features a modular concept and compact packaging: it's only 0.24 inches (6mm) longer and weighs 16.5 lbs (7.5 kg) less than the six-speed transmission it supersedes. (image via Cars.com)

2014 was an outstanding year for automotive tech innovations and 2015's list of finalists looks set to continue that promising trend. As for 2014's winners, they're saving the date (Monday, April 20th, 2015 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM EDT) when the 2014 Automotive News PACE Awards Ceremony takes place at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit, Michigan.

Feb 9, 2015
by Myra Per-Lee

Wow!  These are awesome

Wow!  These are awesome innovations.  Thanks for sharing them.