Lear hasn’t said much for public consumption since emerging from bankruptcy last November but this week the firm invited members of the press to its Southfield, Michigan headquarters to show off what appeared to be an impressive array of high power management products for hybrid and electric vehicles.
Lear is not pursuing battery or electric motor technology but focuses on critical electrical power management components and systems, including high voltage terminals, connectors, and wire harnesses; high power distribution boxes, and battery charging gear.
Its products include a proprietary integrated power module (IPM), a battery monitoring system, DC-AC traction inverters, DC-DC converters, voltage quality modules (VQM), auxiliary power-plug inverters, and a dual storage management unit for “smart” control of multiple voltage sources. Lear says its IPM can integrate up to four major modules, reduce mass by 15 percent, and reduce total system cost. It claims its battery monitoring system has the lowest profile currently available.
Company executives said they decided to pursue power management about 18 months ago, hired the necessary engineering talent, developed the products, and obtained production contracts with major automakers. The contracts they can talk about include charging systems on the 2010 Chevrolet Volt, Renault Kangoo, and Daimler EV Smart.
“There has been a significant amount of discussion in the media about the electrification of vehicles, with emphasis on OEMs, the smart grid, electric drives and the batteries needed for these vehicles,” says Jeneanne Hanley, vice president, Electrical Power Management, Business Development & Strategy. “But there is also an entire architecture of high power components and systems needed to enable the hybrid and electric vehicles that directly influence everything from the technical performance and efficiency of the system to the consumer interface. This is right where Lear’s High Power Systems come into play.”
Glenn Denomme, vice president, Global Hybrid & EV Systems Engineering, adds that Lear has 36 global manufacturing and engineering facilities that deliver cost-effective high power charging, electrical distribution, and energy management systems across the world.“