DETROIT—Schrader Bridgeport International Inc., with its sister electronics division, has won seven new original equipment contracts for its Gen II tire pressure monitoring sensor.
Schrader will ship Gen II for three U.S. vehicle models, three in Europe and one in Japan starting with the 2001 model year and extending three to four years, depending on the contract, said Carl E. Wacker, worldwide manager of sales and marketing for Schrader Electronics.
He did not give dollar amounts for the contracts nor name the vehicle makers, but did say the typical markets interested in the technology are luxury cars, sport-utility vehicles and minivans.
The Gen II sensor made its debut on the 2000-model Peugeot 607, now in production in Europe.
Schrader's first version of the sensor has been standard equipment on the Chevrolet Corvette and Plymouth Prowler since 1996, working in tandem with the run-flat tires on those vehicles. Currently, there are more than 600,000 sensor assemblies installed on models of the two vehicles, Mr. Wacker said.
But the redeveloped stem sensor will appear solo for six of the seven new contracts, he said.
"This technology coexists with run-flat technology, complements it, but this system warns you before you have a problem," Mr. Wacker said.
The Gen I sensor required counterbalancing on the tire, because it was 35-percent heavier, he said. "Now we've gone to a 35-gram sensor. Because of its fixed position, light weight and the way it distributes its weight,. OEs can use conventional wheel designs."
The electronics portion of the sensor is produced by Schrader Electronics at its Antrim, Northern Ireland, plant, while Schrader Bridgeport produces the aluminum valve stem and assembles it with a purchased EPDM rubber grommet seal.
Schrader's sensor features wireless technology that transmits the pressure in the tire via radio frequency every 60 seconds, unless there's a pressure change, Mr. Wacker said.
If the sensor detects a change, it transmits more frequently, a valuable communication in slow-leak situations, which occur far more often than catastrophic failures.
Schrader is the only original equipment manufacturer of tire-monitoring systems, he said, but other manufacturers—like TRW and Japan-based Pacific Ltd.— advertise similar radio-frequency tire pressure monitors.
There are competing systems that try to measure tire pressure indirectly via the ABS braking system, but these systems measure wheel speed changes rather than tire pressure and assume pressure problems if there is a differential among the four wheel speeds, Mr. Wacker said.
"We (Schrader) measure tire pressure; we don't measure wheel speed," Mr. Wacker said.
With run-flats, the diameter of the tire changes much less than a conventional tire, Mr. Wacker said, which presents a much bigger challenge for an ABS system, like those manufactured by Delphi Automotive Systems and Robert Bosch GmbH.
Another problem with ABS-based monitoring systems is that they don't work until the vehicle is rolling, Mr. Wacker said. Like its predecessor, the Gen II sensor takes stationary pressure readings.
Although Schrader Electronics produces the radio frequency receiver for the Prowler, its sensor valve can integrate with other systems, Mr. Wacker said.
Schrader will upgrade its aftermarket offering of the Gen II sensor to have it available by late summer of this year, Mr. Wacker said.