Paris, France–Equip Auto, one of the largest international automotive component shows in the world, has named the winners in its International Grand Prix for Technical Innovation. The event, which has attracted some 2,000 exhibitors from 60 countries, including Canada, is held every second year in Paris. It is generally regarded as the second most important international show behind German Automechanika. It is an integrated show, providing a venue to display all aspects component, equipment, and supplies, from the aftermarket and original equipment categories, at both the manufacturing and service parts levels. The Grand Prix Awards for Technical Innovation were drawn from more than 250 entries with a panel of 73 journalists from around the world voting on the merits of products in Garage Equipment, Bodyshop, Aftermarket and Vehicle Equipment (Original Equipment). From these original entries, two dozen nominees were selected, and the winners chosen from these. “Apart for the number, the actual quality is extremely high,” said Martial Barat, president of the European Technical Journalists Association. “Every year there are new innovations, ingenuity etc. This year all aspects of technology and practicality have been combined.” Delphi took top honours in the Garage Equipment category for its DS800E (Europe), a wireless repair computer tablet that has essentially monopolized the product awards over the past couple of years at various shows. The silver award in the category was won by SKF for its IRIS integrated shop management and diagnostic software system. Bodyshop sector Gold and Silver awards went to Weimann Technologies for its Espace Spot Repair system, that allows metal and paint repairs to be executed without moving the car, and Car-O-Liner for its EC Design 3D shop layout software. From the original equipment category, gold went to TRW for a seatbelt retractor that takes up the slack in a seatbelt prior to airbags or the pyrotechnic retractors are activated in a crash. This system can be added to existing systems, but the full spectrum of applications–it is suggested it could be used as a drowsiness warning system also–have yet to be explored. This is likewise for the silver winner, Hella’s Lane Departure Warning system. This area of technology is receiving attention from a number of suppliers and requires vehicles systems such as integrated stability control systems and complex algorithms in addition to the “machine vision” sensor that reads road markings. As such, it is not an area of technology apt to be readied as a retrofit. The aftermarket awards went to Valeo for its Universal Alternator, an innovative system that uses a standard 90 amp unit with a set of two dozen mounting brackets that enables it to cover some 140 applications, though even Valeo admits that there could be more. This approach is not for everyone, but it does provide an option for low-volume applications, as well as roadside assistance situations, which is a focus of the program. The silver award in the category went to Bosch for its universal oxygen sensor, which covers 90% of the market with just seven part numbers. Obviously, considering the winners, the subject of part number reduction, inventory reduction, is top of mind for the aftermarket. There were also a number of special awards offered, one going to Steco for a battery installation system that retains computer power during battery changing, as well as to LuK Automotive Systems for its automated transmission clutch, and another to Brembo, for a visual check system for brake rotor thickness. Presidents’ Awards went to Citroen, for its diesel particulate filter, Valeo for its Silencio wiper blade, and Nexa Autocolor and Glasurit for advancements in waterborne paint technologies. Safety and the environment were front and centre at many of the product introductions, but not in isolation from the realities of business. You can protect the environment and still be profitable, was the message in many sectors, a point that should not go unnoticed.