Energy absorbing collapsible steering columns have vastly improved the safety of modern-day vehicles. Now Dana Corp.'s Spicer Driveshaft Div. is applying a similar principle to driveshaft technology that will be used on global car and truck platforms starting as early as the 2000 model year.

Instead of being simply a straight tube that can fracture unpredictably in a major crash, the new driveshaft design shown at SAE incorporates crumple zones that allow the driveshaft to collapse in a controlled, linear fashion under a given load, reducing potential damage to the occupant compartment during a collision. Torsional strength is not sacrificed, says Andy Nieman, chief engineer of applications for Spicer Driveshaft.