Delphi has developed a subsystem that integrates the cross-car structure, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) ducting and case support, airbag system, steering column and electrical component supports into a single beam made of steel overmolded with plastic. It said the steel hybrid cross-car beam helps to save space, reduce mass, improve warranty and lower costs by up to 15%.
Lon Offenbacher, global business line executive, cockpits and integrated closure systems, Delphi Thermal & Interior, said the cross-car beam lowers the overall part count while maintaining serviceability and integrity of the vehicle steering column support, HVAC, electrical, center stack and energy-absorbing components.
He said proprietary welding technologies result in an engineered steel structural member in which attachment features and functional components are molded directly into the design of the beam, eliminating the need for separate brackets for attaching subsystem components. “The integrated design offers a cost saving to the vehicle manufacturer while offering enhanced dimensional stability, reduced component part count and assembly labor, and reduced mass as compared to a traditional design configuration,” Offenbacher said. “Additional subsystem efficiencies are gained from the integration, such as better performance in squeak and rattle as well as a reduction in the number of possible HVAC leak paths.”
Offenbacher estimated that engineering individual subsystems into one part results in up to 50 millimeters of additional space in an area of the vehicle where real estate is at a premium. “Crash-worthiness and side impact protection are optimized because the beam passes straight through the HVAC module rather than bypassing it,” he noted. “The beam design helps assure cross-car structural performance, a major contributor to achieving five-star side impact ratings.”