Automotive News: Here are the 14 Automotive News PACE Award winners for 2021

Innovations in vehicle component design for electrification and for safer driving led the field of winners of the 2021 Automotive News PACE Awards.

The program honored 14 companies for product and technology advances, in an online presentation Thursday. The winners also included new digital solutions in how vehicles are sold. The PACE Awards are sponsored by Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association.

Several of the 2021 award winners were technology enhancements to support vehicle electrification, such as Garrett Motion’s E-Turbo for hybrid powertrains, and a new-generation battery disconnect unit from Lear Corp., developed to address thermal management issues in electric vehicles.

Bosch, Faurecia, Marelli and Schaeffler Group were among the industry giants that were awarded for their work. But PACE judges also singled out smaller firms, such as the automotive e-commerce company CarSaver and the on-the-road payment provider Cerence Inc.

The annual awards, now in their 27th year, recognize suppliers for innovations that have successfully moved from drawing board to commercial application.

The awards went to a spectrum of technologies, ranging from an advanced lidar system that requires fewer components, to a display screen technology that adjusts its light to an individual’s visual needs, an online-only vehicle shopping and sales platform, and a super-light thermoplastic replacement for steel roof brackets.


The awards are determined by an independent panel of PACE judges, who spend months reviewing applications from around the industry and analyzing the achievement.

At the same time, the separate Automotive News PACEpilot program honored 10 emerging innovations from both global suppliers and small startups.

PACEpilot recognizes innovations that have reached a working pilot demonstration phase but are not yet commercialized with a contracted sale.

The PACEpilot honorees include a new 5G vehicle telecommunications platform from Lear Corp., a 4D imaging radar concept from the Israeli company Vayyar and a lightweight, conformable high-pressure hydrogen tank from Noble Gas Systems of Novi, Mich.

This year, the judges additionally singled out three PACE award recipients as winners of the Automotive News PACE Innovation Partnership Award.

Those awards are given in cases where an innovation came about as a result of a close working partnership between a supplier and its customer.

The three partnership awards went to: Daimler Trucks and Bosch, for their collaboration in introducing autonomous-driving advances to Class 8 trucks; to Ford Motor Co. and Schaeffler Group, for creating a hybrid module for Ford’s large SUVs and pickups; and to Stellantis and Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials, a working partnership that introduced a strong thermoplastic replacement for steel roof components.

“This year’s class of award winners and honorees reflects the big changes that are coming at us,” said Steve Schmith, director of PACE judging. “In our 27th year of the PACE program, it’s striking to see how innovation is continuing to improve the auto industry.”

The winners of the 2021 Automotive News PACE Awards are:

Aptiv: Solid-state electrical centers
Bosch: Level 2 autonomous Class 8 trucking application
CarSaver: Nissan Buy@Home
Cerence Inc.: Cerence Pay
Faurecia: IRYStec perceptual display platform vision
Garrett Motion: E-Turbo for hybrid powertrains
KAR Global: ADESA Simulcast+
Lear Corp.: Battery disconnect unit
Marelli: Very high-pressure GDI fuel system
Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials: KyronMAX™ roof receivers
RoboSense (Suteng Innovation Technology Co.): MEMS solid-state automotive lidar
Schaeffler Group USA: P2 hybrid module for rear-wheel-drive transmissions
Valeo: eACCESS 48V electric powertrain system
Work Truck Solutions: Commercial vehicle business model

The 2021 Automotive News PACE Innovation Partnership Award winners:

Daimler Trucks North America and Bosch for their partnership on a Level 2 autonomous Class 8 truck application
Ford Motor Co. and Schaeffler Group for their partnership on the P2 hybrid module for rear-wheel-drive transmissions
Stellantis and Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials for the partnership to develop KyronMAX roof receivers

The 2021 Automotive News PACEpilot Innovations to Watch:

Arbe: 4D imaging radar
CNXMotion: Brake-to-Steer
Detect-It: Coder-free AI enterprise software
Lear Corp.: 5G V2X telecommunications unit
Lear Corp.: INTU Thermal Comfort with ClimateSense technology
Nexteer Automotive: Steer-by-wire with stowable steering column
Noble Gas Systems: Conformable high-pressure hydrogen tank
Sonatus: Dynamic data management solution
Swift Navigation: Precise positioning
Vayyar: Automotive 4D imaging radar

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