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Dana to spotlight new products it hopes will link it into electronics

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Burman: Everything has an electronic tie.

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Toledo's largest corporation is showcasing some new wares next week that officials hope will help wire it into electronics circles with the likes of Delphi Corp., Motorola, Siemens VDO Automotive, and Valeo - and ultimately improve sales and profits.

Although known for axles and other “hard” parts, Dana Corp. is showing automaker engineers some of its offerings at Convergence 2002, an auto electronics conference and trade show slated for Monday through next Wednesdayat Detroit's Cobo Center.

Drawing on its experience with engine parts, Dana has incorporated sensors to monitor temperature, pressure, and coolant flow rate. The system, like other technologies Dana will feature at the show, will help improve fuel efficiency and decrease emissions while playing a supporting role to other electronic advances, said Paul Burman, director of strategic marketing for Dana's engine and fluid management group. “Dana hasn't traditionally been known as an electronics business, nor is it today,” he said. Still, he added, “literally everything included in the vehicle today has some kind of electronic interface.”

More than 9,000 people attended the last Convergence conference and trade show two years ago, the first time Dana made an appearance. This year's biennial gathering will have more than 180 exhibits, according to show organizers.

Mr. Burman said Dana's use of sensors on cylinder head gaskets, trademarked as “Intelligent Cooling,” creates a system to regulate coolant flow based on engine temperature instead of speed. The technology is at least three years away, as is another Dana advancement, “Intelligent Lubrication,” that monitors oil flow and temperature, he said.

But one of Dana's developments, electric power steering, has an unidentified customer. The product will be on a vehicle with a 42-volt electrical system, which will be launched next year as a 2004 model, said Greg Bolduc, a Dana sales/marketing manager. He declined to elaborate on the vehicle or its maker.

The technology can boost fuel economy by 3 percent to 4 percent, he said, and is smaller, lighter, and less costly than conventional power steering systems. Dana has two other electric steering technologies to showcase at the show.

Yet another Dana product making an appearance at Convergence is a starter/alternator that enables light truck engines with traditional 12-volt electrical systems to shut off when movement stops and restart less than 300 milliseconds after the driver's foot leaves the brake pedal.

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