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Adjustable Pedal Demand on Rise Courtesy Wards Auto

Driven by the demand for additional comfort and safety features in vehicles, the market for electronically adjustable pedal systems (APS) has seen tremendous growth in recent years-from a couple of applications in 1999 to nearly 60 in 2004-and shows no signs of letting up.

Supplier Dura Automotive Systems Inc., which has more than 10% of the APS market, shipped approximately 300,000 units of its first-generation system last year. It plans on producing about 425,000 units this year with volume from additional Pontiac G6 models, says Dura System Engineering Supervisor Srini Sundaresan. And the supplier expects its next-generation technology, known as QuietDrive and slated to debut on an '08 model, to significantly increase its APS sales. Dura forecasts a $25 million annual APS business by 2008, up from its current $11 million.

APS is a motor-driven linkage integrated into a vehicle's pedal assembly, which allows the pedals to be moved fore and aft about three inches in an arcing or linear fashion, depending on application.

Its adjustability offers the driver more control, diminishes the chances of fatigue and ultimately improves safety in large vehicles by allowing drivers of different heights to become more comfortable in a particular vehicle. Additionally, APS improves safety by allowing the pedals to be positioned in a way that allows the driver to remain at least 10 inches from the steering wheel, the distance the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends for preventing injury from airbag deployment in the event of a serious crash.

According to Dura, 57 of the 226 models sold in North America in 2004 were equipped with some form of APS. The supplier expects that ratio to increase to 88 of the 258 models expected to be on the market in 2009-an increase from 25% to 34%. Dura also expects the $95 million APS industry to increase to $122 million over the same period.