Galway electronics firm lands €14m deals with BMW and Toyota

12 Sep 2003

Galway-based Connaught Electronic Limited (CEL) has landed major contracts with BMW and Toyota understood to be worth €14 million that will give the firm considerable clout in the multi-billion euro automotive industry.

Supported by Enterprise Ireland, the company has developed a new intrusion detection technology that will feature in the new generation of BMW coupes.

CEL, which employs 220 people in Tuam, designs, develops and manufactures sophisticated electronic control systems. The company has an annual turnover of €37 million. The company has commenced supply of the new intrusion detection technology to Toyota and BMW.

Future Human

The technology is an intrusion sensor for soft-top vehicles that will be used in coupe models including the BMW 3 series coupe and the Z4 that will be sold worldwide, beginning with the UK, Holland and Germany.

The CEL sensor is based on radar technology and will be installed in more than 100,000 vehicles in the first year of the contact, and this figure is anticipated to grow to between 150,000 and 200,000 per year in the future as BMW plans to extend the technology across all future car ranges.

“The system works by detecting intrusion”, said Dr. Joe McBreen, managing director of CEL. “If you leave a bag on the seat and the top is down it will sense someone putting in their hand and trying to take the bag. This can help with insurance as soft-tops and coupes in some markets are difficult to insure. The R&D which resulted in this development by CEL was supported by Enterprise Ireland and our technology is now recognised as the most advanced on the market and eliminates many of the problems associated with older systems.”

CEL manufactured electronics are also being used to control the air conditioning systems in the new Toyota Avensis. “This is a particularly significant contract for us as it will enable us to build a relationship with Toyota,” said Dr. McBreen.

“We supply the circuit boards which are used to control the air conditioning in all 170,000 Toyota Avensis models produced for the European market each year. We won this contract due to our systematic approach and the quality of our people. Our attention to detail and quality production process impressed Sumitomo and Toyota. Sumitomo are the supplier of air conditioning systems to Toyota.”

By John Kennedy