Hybrid System for Testing Hybrids

Hybrid drivetrain systems combine, typically, combustion engines and electric motors. (There are the prototype or not-ready-for-mass production fuel cell hybrids, but . . .) As there are more of these systems being developed, there is a need for commercial test solutions.

Reams of Power

Imagine picking up the paper one morning, and using it to help power your appliances—or your car.

Fast, Cheap & Accurate Sensor Systems

Can a refrigerator magnet provide a more accurate and faster sensor that can be used for ABS, stability control, and roll mitigation systems?

Testing for a Comfortable Seat

At Volvo Car Corp., the seats that go into the company’s vehicles are being tested day and night in a climatic chamber.

Ideas & Answers

Ideas lead to innovations.

Wagons Whoa!

While U.S. vehicle manufacturers seem to think that the station wagon is an anathema (or maybe it has something to do with the profitability provided by SUVs and now crossovers), that’s not shared by manufacturers in other parts of the world.

BMW Plant Transformation

The assembly operations within the BMW factory near Spartanburg, SC, have under-gone a transformation to help make the operation more effective.

No Hot Air

“Theory and modeling predict that hurricane intensity should increase with increasing global mean temperatures, but work on the detection of trends in hurricane activity has focused mostly on their frequency and show no trend.

PLM Software Facilitates Managing Innovations

Ever wonder what happens once you drop your submission into that idea box on the wall of your office building or when a concept proposed by your group gets submitted for review?

The Return of Alfa

Alfa-Romeo, which is part of Fiat, pulled out of the U.S. market in 1995 (11 years after the parent company gave up). But Alfa is coming back.

Measuring the COT

The NASCAR Car of Tomorrow (COT) program is predicated on standardization of the chassis and body elements of the vehicles (see AD&P, May ’07; Inside NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow). Which begs the question: How does NASCAR know that the cars that are being built meet the specs?

New Bio-Based Polyol: Green & Less Odiferous

Two things are going on in the market right now.

The 40th Tokyo Motor Show: Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

Tokyo’s biennial auto show has cultivated a reputation as being the place where Asian OEMs bring their wild and wacky concept vehicles out from under their veil of secrecy to show the world what’s possible if imagination ruled the world.

The Wisdom of [Fake] Steve

oPtion$: The Secret Life of Steve JobsA Parody by Fake Steve Jobs(Da Capo Press; $22.95)During the Center for Automotive Research’s ( Management Briefing Seminar this past August, there was an astonishing number of speakers who cited Apple with the kind of respect and admiration that is uncommon, especially when one takes into account the fact that typically people at automotive conferences don’t talk about anything other than automobiles (or themselves, if they’re in the consulting business). Every now and then there is a citation of Boeing, but that’s another story.Apple’s product development.

Scary for a SCARA?

The SCARA robot (Selective Compliant Assembly Robot Arm) was actually inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame in 2006 (see: According to that hall, the “claim to fame” for the SCARA is that it “revolutionized small electronics assembly.” Fanuc Robotics America ( has a new robot for small part assembly applications.

Infiniti’s EX Displays New Key Technologies

In an effort to carve out a niche in the crowded luxury segment, Nissan’s Infiniti brand is working to differentiate itself by providing technologies that its product planners hope will fuel customer demand.

Calculating Noise

As NVH is a key concern at Ford Motor Co.—Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development, recently stated that they are working to “Understand every noise path,” as quiet vehicles are desirable—when a transmission prototype had sound pressure levels of 10 to 15 dB greater than the nominal values, Jack S.P.

Ford’s Friendlier Painting

All automotive environmental initiatives aren’t focused on things happening under the hood or coming out of the tailpipe.

Cyber Sweatshops

We Are Smarter Than Me should be of particular interest to those involved in product development (it should go without saying that marketers will find it valuable) as it points out the ways and means people—large numbers of people, potentially—can be tapped for their likes, dislikes, ideas, issues, concerns, observations, etc. about what is being developed—or even, as is the case with an example in the book, Cambrian House, whether something should be developed at all.

Nano Tech—Big for Thermoplastics?

Although people—mainly people at plastics companies—have been talking about polymers replacing metals in auto applications for years, the results have not exactly been as expected.

Advancing Powertrain Technology

According to Richard E.

E Is for Ergo

Ford Motor Co. engineers were forced to make a change to the design of the grille of its 2008 E-Series commercial van after the automaker’s manufacturing ergonomics lab determined, through virtual simulation, that assembly line workers would have to exert too much pressure on their bodies during installation. “We were looking for a specification to provide to engineering on what the maximum acceptable insertion force would be [and determined] the allowable effort would be 29.2-lb.,” says Allison Stephens, Ford manufacturing ergonomics technician specialist.


Not Real, But Close Enough

Virtual reality technology is putting more data on large screens. And it's better data: higher resolution, easier access, different viewpoints, more accurate tracking, and affordable.

When Design Meets Assembly Good Things Can Happen

Perhaps if this process didn’t have a comparatively well-known name more people would use it, they wouldn’t be chasing low labor rates, and products would be better.

Building An Amazing Audi: The R8

It looks like high-velocity sculpture. It is how Audi has translated its sports car racing expertise into a hand-built vehicle that could be a daily driver. And the build process is out of the ordinary, as well.

Formula 1 Hybrid Technology

Anyone who follows Formula 1 knows that expecting the sport’s governing body, the FIA, to follow through on its pronouncements is about as reasonable as believing any government will spend your tax money wisely.

Second-Gen Sequoia: Leveraging The Tundra (Or Vice-Versa)

It’s been a while—since model year 2001—between Sequoias. But with the Tundra out, the vehicle with which is shares lots of technical genetic material is now rolling, too.

The Innovation Situation

“Innovate or Die.” It’s a popular saying, and one that suggests the act of innovating is at least as important as the result.

Every One Is A Special Project

Once the drawing is done—whether on a computer screen or piece of paper—the design process isn’t over.


Dudder: Horse Tales

Scene 1Invited to preview Ford’s L.A.

EuroAuto: Building Better—and Different—Brakes

Unless you are an expert, it is difficult to tell one brake caliper from another.

Insider: Back In the Game

The one hand that has been tied behind the backs of GM, Ford and Chrysler is now free.

Competitive Challenges: Predicting 2008

I generally avoid predicting the future, particularly as the automotive industry seems to be changing on a minute-by-minute basis.

Marginal: Real

While on a trip to learn about the 2008 Chevy Malibu, I had the opportunity to take a tour of the Gibson guitar factory in Memphis, where they make semi-hollow-body electric guitars.

Objects of Interest - December 2007

Camera-Based Measuring SystemPilz Automation Safety’s ( PSENvip measurement and protection system design for press brakes provides an easy-to-configure and low-maintenance camera-based way to reduce the reliance on curtain systems.

Insight: The Game Changers

Every so often, someone with a talent for big thinking dreams up a game-changing move, a strategy that radically shifts the basis of competition in a particular area.