Cutting costs still is the top priority for automotive engineers, but concerns about coping with more stringent emissions regulations, and other issues regarding designability of parts, fuel economy and safety are looming much larger on their radar screens.

That's the word from DuPont Automotive's eighth annual survey of engineers attending the SAE Congress.

Cost reduction, still No.1 on engineers' priority lists, dropped 6% compared with 2001 results, while issues such as designability and emissions regulations increased 9% and 6%, respectively.

“There is always strong pressure to keep costs down, but this year's survey also shows that the industry is facing considerable design, fuel economy and environmental challenges that can only be solved by advancing technology,” said Walter L. Fields III, vice president-Automotive Engineering Materials for DuPont Automotive.

The 109 engineers responding to the survey also said they thought the timeline for 42-volt technologies in North America might be pushed back. Almost half the respondents said they believed the 42-volt battery system would be introduced in this market within the next 10 years.