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October 2, 2002

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Valeo advances driver comfort and confidence with detection systems contracts

Valeo's new parking slot measurement system, which advises the driver if the car will fit into a given parking space, has been selected by two European car makers and is due to be installed on several future models, the first in 2004. The parking slot measurement system significantly enhances comfort and confidence for parallel parking, an increasingly challenging maneuver in a world of heavy urban traffic with fewer available parking spaces.

Valeo has developed the sensor-based parking slot measurement system applying its proven Ultrasonic Park-Assist (UPA) technology for which it is the world's number one. The innovative parking slot measurement system can evaluate the length of a parking slot chosen by the driver and perform an accurate comparison with the length of the driver's car to indicate if the car will fit into the space.

"These contracts represent an important recognition by car makers that driver support and detection systems play an increasingly important role for drivers in the future. This development and successful customer approval is a direct result of our Domain approach which transcends traditional product, system and technology definitions. Valeo innovations such as this will continue to add value to cars," said Thierry Morin, Chairman of Valeo's Management Board.

Particularly beneficial in urban areas where parking slots are scarce and space at a premium, or at night when the driver's spatial judgement may be impaired, the parking slot measurement system will be an indispensable tool in the day-to-day driving of the future. Studies conducted by Valeo have shown that drivers who are less accustomed to parking in more confined spaces benefit from additional peace-of-mind and feel more comfortable performing parallel parking maneuvers.

The parking slot measurement system consists of two ultrasonic sensors similar to those used in Valeo's current UPA system. These sensors are integrated into the left and right hand side of the front bumper of the car and communicate the requested parking slot measurement information to the driver via existing visual displays located on the dash board.

With the system switched on, the driver simply drives up to an empty parking space between two cars or clearly defined objects by the kerb. As the driver passes the parking slot at a distance of less than 0.5 meters, the system measures the size of the space. If the car will fit into the space, the driver simply continues as in a normal parking maneuver employing the UPA system to judge the available parking distance in relation to a parked car or a static obstacle.

The parking slot measurement sensors are small enough to be unobtrusively integrated into the bumper design. The individual contracts will be customized to suit the needs of each car maker to integrate the system optimally and link it to other systems if required.

In the future, it is envisaged that information from Valeo's advanced steering angle sensor, which is in volume production with the major German and French automotive customers, can be combined with the parking slot and UPA system to instruct the driver of optimal steering torque and timing during parking maneuvers. This is expected to improve parallel parking even further, minimizing additional parking adjustments thereby reducing unnecessary driver tasks and saving time.

Valeo considers the parking slot measurement system to be cost-effective and "Valeo added" for car makers who choose to install Valeo's award-winning UPA system. This system, in production since 1991, facilitates the adoption of the parking slot measurement function by using the same Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and the same type of ultrasonic sensors to interpret and communicate parking slot measurement information.

The parking slot measurement system has been developed in France and Germany. Extensive testing was carried out in urban Paris, an area notorious for its congestion and scarcity of parking spaces. The ultrasonic sensors have been in volume production at two Valeo sites located in Germany and in Mexico, in production since 1991 and 1997 respectively. The parking slot measurement systems for the two car makers are planned to be produced in Germany initially.

The parking slot measurement system is a major advancement in the ultrasonic sensor market estimated to be worth nearly 500 million euro in 2005.

(October 1, 2002)

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