VOLKSWAGEN AG'S TIGUAN CROSS/UTILITY vehicle and Chrysler LLC's all-new minivans show that suppliers are looking up in their search for product innovation.

As '08 begins, the Tiguan and Chrysler minivans are but a few of the new vehicles arriving to market for the new model year with fresh supplier-generated technology designed to shave weight, reduce cost, improve driving pleasure or — in a perfect world — do all three.

The VW Tiguan, unveiled recently at the Frankfurt Motor Show and arriving next year in U.S. showrooms, offers a multi-panel panoramic sunroof from ArvinMeritor Inc., while the Chrysler minivans come available with children's TV programming, courtesy of Sirius satellite TV and systems integrator Delphi Corp.

ArvinMeritor says the Tiguan, derived from the Golf subcompact, is the first vehicle worldwide to receive its Next-Generation Sunroof (NGS), which lets in more light and provides an unobstructed view of the sky through a larger, more transparent glass surface than a conventional slide-and-tilt sunroof.

The new feature fits with the overall trend toward increased take rates for panoramic sunroofs.

There are manufacturing benefits, too. ArvinMeritor says the new roof employs an innovative guide system that reduces the number of sub-components by up to 50% and generates notable weight savings. A cross-member is integrated into the rear panel to increase body stiffness.

“NGS is our answer to OEMs who are asking for a low-weight sunroof that meets consumer expectations for heightened cabin comfort,” says Theo Timmerman, vice president and general manager-roof systems with ArvinMeritor.

Besides increasing ambient light in the cabin, the new roof improves headroom and noise-vibration and harshness during operation, Timmerman says. A new mechanical control system was specifically designed to save space. The device includes anti-pinch protection.

The roof has two glass panels, including a fixed rear pane. The other panel tilts and slides over top of the first. A fabric shade is integrated to block the sun on particularly hot days. And here's a nifty trick: The sunroof can remain open, for air circulation, while the shade is closed.

ArvinMeritor assembles the roof module at its plant in Lozorno, Slovakia.

Also for the Tiguan — as well as for the '08 VW Touran compact van — Siemens VDO Automotive is supplying the next-generation navigation and multimedia system that calculates destination routes in near real time and has a zooming map display.

The system, dubbed RNS 510, is based on a global modular architecture, giving VW the flexibility to integrate Siemens VDO's combined infotainment package across a variety of models and markets. The multimedia system's hard drive has a 30-gigabyte capacity, to accommodate MP3 music files or additional maps.

For the fourth-generation Chrysler minivans, streaming video from Sirius satellite TV will make for peaceful family motoring as Delphi hardware delivers the Disney Channel, Cartoon Network Mobile and Nickelodeon Mobile to second- and/or third-row occupants.

Using its satellite radio expertise, Delphi says the minivan program represents a first for the North American market. The streaming video uses the same spectrum allocation as satellite radio.

In addition to the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan, the feature also will be available on the '08 Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Dodge Magnum, Jeep Commander and Jeep Grand Cherokee this fall.

“With this video technology, passengers will be able to bring new entertainment content directly into their vehicle,” says Ken Erickson, Delphi product business unit executive, entertainment & communications. “They won't have to watch and carry around the same DVDs anymore.”

Other features worth noting for the '08 model year:

  • Visteon Corp. supplies the all-new Cadillac CTS with a highly stylized exterior lighting system that features one of the industry's first applications of LED-powered backup lights. In the front of the vehicle, Visteon supplies projector headlamps ensconced by LED-powered vertical light pipes and “ice cube” optics that give the vehicle a distinctive look — day and night. The light pipes also glow vertically along the edge of the tail lights.
  • TRW Automotive supplies load-limiting seatbelts for front-row occupants in Chrysler's new minivans. Load-limiting belt retractors help distribute the forces placed on the body more evenly during a crash and are designed to soften the belt's impact on areas such as the chest and pelvis, which can be subjected to tremendous forces in severe accidents. The devices are intended to work in concert with other safety devices such as airbags.
  • Robert Bosch GmbH is supplying a stop-start system for non-hybrid European versions of the BMW 1-Series and 3-Series, as well as the Mini Cooper. The system shuts off the internal-combustion engine when the vehicle is at a standstill, reducing fuel consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions about 8% in urban traffic. Bosch supplies the starter, designed specificially for start/stop applications. The system also requires a crank sensor and battery sensor.