More stories related to SAEDETROIT – Preh Automotive, the automotive controls systems division of Preh GmbH of Bad Neustadt, Germany, is hoping to gain a stronger foothold in the North American market with the introduction of several new technologies here at the Society of Automotive Engineers conference.

“Our first orders in the U.S. show that Preh’s products can be very competitive in this market,” says Preh Automotive President and CEO Michael Roesnick.

To better support its growing U.S. customer base, Preh plans to have a North American manufacturing site by next year, with more than 100 employees by 2007, Roesnick says. It will take advantage of a move by American manufacturers to enhance interior fittings; the stable profit margin for suppliers of advanced technology; and the increased interest in systems specialists among U.S. auto makers.

“Car companies are aware of our advanced technology edge, and we are already off to a good start by manufacturing the climate-control system for the all-new Hummer H3,” Roesnick says.

Preh’s PVD metallic finish is featured on the BMW 5-Series HVAC controls.

Among the supplier’s latest developments is a metallic-finishing process called Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD), traditionally used for hardened drill bits and other metal surface industrial applications. For automotive use, Preh modified the high-temperature PVD process to meet the low-temperature requirements of plastic parts used in interiors.

PVD allows plastic components to have a high-quality metallic appearance and feel and be laser etched for nighttime illumination. Although Preh initially is marketing PVD for use in higher-end models, such as the climate control system dials of the current BMW 5-Series sedan, Roesnick says the technology is “cost effective to all comparable technologies” and should filter down to more entry-level vehicles.

Additionally, Preh announces its latest generation of windshield-defogging sensors, which prevent fogging before it occurs by measuring the temperature of the glass and allowing the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system to operate accordingly.

The compact sensor utilizes both mechanical and electronic interfaces and easily can be mounted under the rearview mirror cover, the supplier says. The unit measures the relative humidity at the inner surface of the glass and the software then sends signals to the HVAC system.

Preh’s windshield defogging sensor measures temperature and humidity to prevent fogging.

Preh also announces that it is supplying the ’05 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne with its newest advanced traction control actuator sensor based on its proprietary thick-film technology, which consists of a hardened glassy carbon polymeric paste that combines high hardness qualities and good conductivity.

These qualities guarantee low abrasion and contact resistance under the extreme conditions of 4-wheel-drive transfer cases, Preh says.

Additional SUVs will begin using the technology later this year, the supplier says.