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Bosch, GM bolster truck brakes

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MILFORD — Hoping to overcome negative consumer feedback and improve a key product amid stiff new competition, General Motors Corp. and brake supplier Robert Bosch AG have teamed up to develop a new braking system for the 2005 GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks.

The new brakes will allow drivers to stop or slow more quickly while applying less pressure on the pedal.

The Silverado and Sierra are two of GM’s best-selling and profitable vehicles but are squaring off in the U.S. marketplace with the all-new Ford F-150 and Nissan Titan, as well as the Dodge Ram.

With the new brakes, the amount of time needed to stop has been reduced by two seconds and stopping distance has been cut by 85 feet, using just the front brakes.

In recent J.D. Power and Associates quality studies, customers complained that it took too much effort to depress the brake pedal, that the pedals felt mushy or soft and that the brakes just didn’t have enough stopping power.

“People said when they first touched the brakes they felt nothing,” said Ken Hamann, director of brake systems for GM.

Bosch was given responsibility for developing the new system when it was awarded the contract in 2002, said Tom Brennan, Bosch engineering manager.

Working with two or three lower-tier suppliers, Bosch improved the stiffness in the front brake calipers to reduce pedal travel — the distance a driver must depress the pedal before braking begins — changed boosters and redistributed power between the front and rear brakes.

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