Tools to create real products virtually

Simulation tools to test the wear and tear and just about everything else about new products are getting pretty close to the real things.

Bryan Nesbitt, Take 2

Slightly more than a year after our first encounter, we check up on his progress in reformulating GM Europe Design.

Castle Bromwich Prepares For XK Assembly

When you’re putting together an aluminum-intensive vehicle, the sparks don’t fly, but rivets are used in abundance.

Mays On Design

Regionalism, emotions, packaging & bad ‘60s TV shows turned-movies. Ford’s top designer on these subjects, and more.

Stephenson's Design Journey

On March 19, 1969, on a bustling street in Casablanca, a nine year-old boy by the name of Frank Stephenson was walking along with his father when destiny took over.

NISSAN - The Extraordinary Happens Every Day

From the direction of the now-legendary Carlos Ghosn to the engineering of new powertrains and vehicles to the way that the people work with people...

It's An American Brand: Jeep Concepts Revealed In Europe

The “official” wraps were removed from two Jeep concept vehicles at the 61st International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt this past September, the Jeep Patriot and the Jeep Compass, both of which are described as being “directionally” where the brand is headed as it works to expand its portfolio beyond the four vehicles that presently make up its showroom (Commander, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Wrangler). A better way of thinking about this—one that is closer to what will undoubtedly occur sometime in ’06—is that the Patriot and the Compass will be rolling out of the Belvidere Assembly Plant (located in northern Illinois; the heretofore home of the Neon), which is undergoing a $419-million refurbishment, ostensibly in preparation for the Dodge Caliber.


Mobile Instrumentation—In The Developement Lab

While the MGCsplit data acquisition (DAQ) system from HBM (www.hbm.com; Marlborough, MA) is often used for in-vehicle testing as the IP65-hardened version can handle sun, ice, wind, heat, cold, dirt, mud, and moisture, apparently at the development test lab at GM Powertrain in Ypsilanti, MI, where transmission development is performed, the units are being used in another kind of mobile application.Specifically, the DAQ modules are mounted on so-called “smart pallets,” pallets that are sized to handle transmissions and electronic test instrumentation.

Bright Idea from Mitutoyo

Here’s a clever idea for digital calipers: instead of a traditional battery, the SuperSolar caliper from Mitutoyo America (www.mitutoyo.com; Aurora, IL) uses a solar battery that charges a super capacitor.

Keronite Seeks Auto Business

“Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation” sounds like something from a sci-fi movie, but according to the executives of Cambridge, U.K.-based Keronite Ltd. (www.keronite.com) this coating process will allow OEMs and suppliers to use lighter metals—including aluminum and magnesium—in expanded application as the process provides improved fatigue life for metals, as well as corrosion protection.Presently, says Stephen Hutchins, vice president of Keronite’s automotive business unit, the process is used for piston crowns and cast-aluminum rings.

Volvo Raises Safety Bar with C70 Convertible

Although Volvo has been working to become more stylish, the people in Gothenburg are still pursuing safety, as is evident in the 2007 C70 Convertible.

Fewer Buttons, Less Effort, More Control

Preh Automotive (www.preh.com) has developed a human-machine interface (HMI) for luxury cars.

Scanning Developments

The man in the picture is Sir David McMurtry.


While there is a plethora of books related to the auto industry—a quick search on Amazon brought up over 6,800 titles—a recent one is both fun and informative.

Silly British Cars Or Spy/Kids

Part 1Lotus Cars put its chief designer, Russell Carr, on the case of developing a one-off version of the Lotus Exige called the “Espionage.” While Lotus certainly isn’t as famous as, say, Aston Martin when it comes to spy drives, it has had product piloted by Roger Moore on film (certainly not the foremost Bond). While U.S. vehicle manufacturers have had product created with fashion designers such that they’ve had some rather bizarre cars, in the present case, (1) Lotus worked with Gieves & Hawkes, a clothier with the appropriate address of No. 1 Saville Row, and (2) the vehicle was created for a display at Harrods (“Truly British”). Gieves & Hawkes designed a “Spy Suit” for the event, which is echoed on the 189-hp Exige.


Mazda and Nippon Paint Company have developed a new electrodeposition (e-coat) basecoat process that raises the paint’s electrical resistance, allowing the paint to better adhere to the inner surfaces of the vehicle body, while reducing the amount of electricity used during the body dipping process.

Electromechanical Valve Actuation Revisited

Thierry Morin, chairman and CEO of Valeo (www.valeo.com) says electromechanical valve actuation is—at most—16 months away from full production feasibility. “Unfortunately,” he adds, “OEMs are not as ready,” though Valeo has in place development contracts with a American and a European automaker. “The earliest we will see it,” he says, “is 2008 in a low-volume application.”James Schwyn, Valeo’s R&D director—North America, says the problems with noise and size have been largely eliminated. “The diesel-like clatter is gone,” he claims, “and the system is designed to fit under current valve covers.” This has been accomplished through the use of small damper springs that soften the deceleration of the valve at each end of its stroke.


The orange Saab-inspired concept car looked a bit strange sitting out in the empty parking lot, with its long doors and arching roof.


The previous generation Jetta gave VW an unexpected with younger car buyers, but it is the Passat that was introduced in 1996 that made it a credible competitor in the mid-size market.

Denso Seeks Next Diesel Breakthrough

Make no mistake: In order to be competitive in the European auto market, auto makers and suppliers must have a significant amount of their portfolio dedicated to diesel powertrains and components, for the simple reason that more than 50% of European car buyers are opting for diesel engines.

Technology Aids Visualization Of Part Problems

Dwight Carlson and his team at Perceptron revolutionized automotive vehicle production back in the 1980s when they brought the gauging systems used to measure bodies-in-white on line in assembly plants.

The Innovation Imperative

The importance of innovation to vehicle manufacturers is vital.While some people might consider that to be a blinding case of the obvious, according to a research study conducted by A.T.

Designed For High-Volume Turning

High-volume turned parts are the output of the ANW-4100, a twin-spindle lathe from Fuji Machine America (www.fujimachine.com; Vernon Hills, IL). Not only does it feature 3,000 rpm, 30-hp spindles and 12-position turrets, but there’s a four-axis rack-and-pinion swing-arm robot that handles parts.

Mercedes S-Class Makes Technology Gains

Mercedes-Benz raises the technology bar on its new flagship ’07 S-Class sedan via the development of advanced safety and comfort features.

One Touch Does It All

It’s a simple idea.

Who Counts?

While Return On Customer provides a metric-based approach to determining the lifetime value of customers and so can be read with great interest by those for whom “running the numbers” is a way of work, the book has tremendous value for those product developers and marketers who are right-brain-oriented.


Is price the only variable of importance in today’s market, or are other items of equal or greater importance?

Assembly: Move It

The VarioFlow workpiece pallet system has been developed by Bosch Rexroth (Buchanan, MI; www.boschrexroth-us.com) to be used in conjunction with its 65- and 90-mm wide conveyor system; the pallets can handle products up to 8 kg in mass and at speeds up to 18 m/min.

Assembly: Tape It

Is it possible to tape parts together?

Agreeing to Disagree

During a powertrain roundtable discussion at Infineon Technologies’ (www.infineon.com) annual media day, panelists John Pinson, group manager-diesel engine research at General Motors, and David Hermance, executive engineer-advanced technology vehicles at Toyota, became entangled in a heated discussion over the future viability of diesel engines in the U.S.


Insider: History Bites Back

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."-George SantayanaIt's hard to escape the gravitational pull of the auto industry in Detroit.

Insight: The Challenges of Niche Production

It is typical in mature consumer markets for competitors to seek to differentiate themselves by creating increasingly narrow "niche" products that appeal to smaller and smaller sub-segments of the buying population.

Dudder: Changing Perspective

What you perceive depends on your point of view.

Marginal: Institutionalized

What's important isn't the number of cars you sell but the profit you make from them.

On Strategy: How To Reduce Hours Per Vehicle

Intense price-based competition in the automotive market has led OEMs to launch various initiatives to reduce total costs in an effort to maintain profitability.

EuroAuto: TFord's U.K. Investment in Diesels

The talk of the Frankfurt Auto Show may have been the advent of the European hybrid-namely those from German carmakers who were presenting them thru gritted teeth-but the truth of the matter is that Europeans are wedded to diesel engines to the extent that they can now be found under the hoods of every other car leaving the new car showrooms.