A high power switch capable of protecting vehicle occupants from fires caused by short circuits is just one of the product offerings unveiled by Tyco Electronics at SAE 2001.

Dubbed the Battery Disconnect Switch (BDS), the system is capable of disengaging the battery and the power in a matter of a few milliseconds, thus protecting all electrical circuits within the vehicle.

Tyco says it is currently developing a 42-volt version of the system that will be introduced in the first cars with 42V electrical power supply systems. Also forthcoming from Tyco is a line of automotive radio frequency (RF) connectors for the U.S. for use in 2002 vehicles. The increasing number of vehicles with telematics, navigation and satellite radio systems will necessitate an increase in the number and variety of RF connectors in a vehicle, Tyco says. These and other types of connectors comprise the largest chunk of the company's electronics business, accounting for as much as 70%, says Dr. Ulrich A. Baur, vice president of Tyco's Global Automotive Div.

The company continues to supply antennas for electronic immobilizer systems designed to make vehicles more theft proof. Dr. Baur says Tyco received a $7 million order for these antennas after showcasing them at last year's SAE Congress.

Tyco Electronics' automotive division is its largest, accounting for 23% or $2.3 billion of total sales last year. This year, automotive sales are expected to grow to $2.6 billion, while comprising 19% of the company's overall sales. "Still a healthy growth rate," says Dr. Baur.