DETROIT, June 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The nation's domestic automakers
have joined forces to improve reliability by developing common designs
for electrical connectors on future generations of vehicles. 
The Big Three's newest consortium, Electrical Wiring Component
Application Partnership (EWCAP), will attempt to reduce costs and
product complexity while improving quality and serviceability. 
EWCAP will look for ways to cut the number of designs found on an
average car and the domestic industry's inventory of connector-part
numbers.  It's expected that the number of designs will shrink from more
than 100 to less than 10 within the next 20 years and EWCAP aims to cut
parts numbers 80 percent, from more than 15,000 to 3,000. 
"We're trying to address the complexity and improve reliability for
our customers," said Chuck Hurton, manager of Power Generation and
Wiring for General Motors Corp. and chairman of the EWCAP's management
committee.  "For example, a 1948 family sedan's typical wiring harness,
or electrical distribution system in today's jargon, weighed 10 pounds;
had 150 feet of insulated wire; 35 connectors, none of which were
sealed; 75 terminals and 55 individual wires. 
"To show how much it's grown, an electrical distribution system on
today's luxury vehicle weighs more than 65 pounds; has more than 1 mile
of insulated wire; 300 connectors, of which 100 are sealed; 2,000
terminals and 1,500 individual wires. 
"If your kitchen were as complex an environment, you might have
60 outlets to do the job of one outlet.  You might need five adapters
and a specially marked outlet just to plug in the toaster.  There's
really no need for that kind of complexity." 
With an annual operation budget of more than $750,000, the new
research partnership will focus on developing common designs for four
new families of blade- and pin-type electrical connectors that currently
account for more than 99 percent of the connectors used on today's
Six research engineers, two each from Chrysler Corp., Ford Motor Co.
and GM, will be assigned full-time to the program and more will become
involved on a part-time basis.  Formed as a research consortium, EWCAP
will be part of the United States Council for Automotive Research
(USCAR) -- the Big Three's cooperative research initiative. 
EWCAP will occupy facilities in Dearborn, Mich. -- USCAR's first
co-located team of Chrysler, Ford and GM researchers.  The consortium
will be managed by a three-member committee, including Frank Povilaitis,
Chrysler's Electrical Systems Department manager; Jeffrey Van Dorn,
manager of Ford's Electrical and Electronics Engineering Department and
Hurton.  Chairman duties will be rotated annually. 
"Our goal is to establish common families of 'best in class'
electrical connection systems," Hurton said.  "We also plan to develop
industry-wide test specifications and design guidelines for electrical
"With standard components, we will make service repairs easier,
electrical systems more reliable and dealership parts inventories less
cumbersome and expensive.  Suppliers benefit too, because they will have
fewer parts to design.  The savings should go to their bottom line." 
In addition to reducing the cost of developing and manufacturing
electrical connectors, automakers and suppliers expect to improve
component quality and open new, overseas markets for their connectors. 
The first of four new electrical connector groups is expected to
appear in dealership parts inventories and new-car showrooms between
1998 and the year 2000.  For example, design work on a 1.5 mm blade
connector will be completed by year's end.  Lab testing and
manufacturing tests will be done by 1996.  Following that, the new
connectors will be ready to be included in the Big Three's full-vehicle
product development cycles. 
Design work on a 2.8 mm blade, 6.3 mm blade and 1 mm pin will be
completed by mid-1995.  The last family of connectors will be included
in product development cycles in late 1998. 
Current suppliers will continue to support EWCAP through the
development of the new, common designs.  They are Alcoa, Fujikura Ltd.;
Augat; American Yazaki; AMP; Cardell Corp.; Electro-Wire Products, Inc.;
Interlock Corp.; Molex Inc.; Osram/Sylvania Inc.; Packard Electric
and United Technologies, Automotive. 
Discussions leading to the formation of the Big Three's newest
consortium began during the fall of 1992 and led to the establishment of
a full-time study group in late 1993.  EWCAP is the 13th research
partnership formed under the USCAR umbrella. 
USCAR was established in 1992 by Chrysler, Ford and General Motors
to coordinate the growing number of cooperative, pre-competitive
research and development programs among the three companies. 

    -0-                        6/1/94
    /NOTE TO EDITORS:  For more information or interviews, CONTACT:
    Public Relations Contacts            Interview Candidates
    Dick Thompson                        Chuck Hurton
    General Motors Corporation           Manager
    810-986-5721                         Power Generation & Wiring
                                         General Motors Corporation
    Chris Preuss                         Frank Povilaitis
    Chrysler Corporation                 Manager
    810-576-8095                         Electrical Systems
                                         Chrysler Corporation
    Pam Kueber                           Jeffrey Van Dorn
    Ford Motor Company                   Manager, Electrical and
    313-337-2456                         Electronics Engineering Dept.
                                         Ford Motor Company
    Scott Fosgard                        Dan Walkowicz
    USCAR                                Executive Director
    313-248-4298                         USCAR/
    (F C GM)

CO:  United States Council for Automotive Research
ST:  Michigan

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