With international heavy-duty markets stagnant or depressed, North America’s strong sales and rosy forecasts are proving attractive to global industry suppliers like Denso Corp. of Japan, which has just announced it will add heavy-duty and commercial vehicle research and development programs to its U.S. operations. The new R&D staff, which will be located in Southfield, MI, and San Diego, will focus on developing more efficient diesel fuel systems, electrification of HVAC and other components, and advanced vehicle connectivity technology, according to the company.
Already a major supplier in the global automotive and medium-duty truck markets, Denso sees coming truck emissions and fuel economy regulations as an opportunity to grow in heavy-duty, according to Patrick Powell, dir. of Denso International America. “Our core expertise in heavy-duty is already located in North America, so [the new R&D investment] will support those local requirements and then allow us to move the globally going forward,” he told Fleet Owner.
One likely area of research will revolve around the company’s widely used diesel common rail fuel systems. “We’re looking at new controls, sensors placed directly in the fuel system that can improve fuel injection control,” Powell said.
Already a supplier of heavy-duty rotating electrical components, Denso will also dedicate some of its new R&D capacity to no-idle electric HVAC for trucks and buses.
A third area of research for the new Denso group will be emerging technologies for dedicated short-range communications that will allow vehicles and roadways to interact for advanced safety systems and autonomous driving features, Powell said.