Making HEVs Happen

It seems that hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles (HEVs) may have a future after all and not be the short-term stopgap that many had prophesied. Toyota, in particular, is fully committed to the concept and has made public its aim of selling 300,000 hybrid cars a year by 2005.

Marginal: What Matters

"I don't get too excited about my couch."—Gary Cowger, president, GM North America"It's what we're known for.

Fiesta Time

Recently, Ford's first generation Fiesta, introduced in 1976, came up in conversation. Not only do I admit to owning one, I'll even admit to wishing I still had the car, a 1980 Sport model. However, an inattentive driver on a Detroit freeway–imagine that!–shortened the car by more than 1/12 its total length. The car was repaired, but the damage done.

Discovering the Directions Toward Success

It has been difficult in the last few years to keep track of all the changes in direction in the automotive industry, both at OEM and supplier levels alike. A fundamental question is just what is the right direction for success.

Compliance: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Compliance demands by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) dictate the new information technology (I.T). programs that most suppliers must implement. OEM mandates take precedence over all other IT initiatives and spending. Consequently, excessive or foolish demands can eviscerate technological innovation in the supply base. When compliance matters are handled well, the supply chain and the ultimate consumer win. When mishandled, it drives up costs and badly hurts trading-partner relationships.

Smart Listening

Nothing contributes so much and so steadily to the breakdown of communications between people as the simple failure to listen to one another. This is as true at home as it is on the job. Above and beyond the problems it causes in human relationships, not listening can also be costly. Instructions are ignored, actions not taken, deadlines missed, opportunities lost—all because somebody didn't listen.

Taking Soft-Touch to New Heights

There's a reason you won't find a photo of any products using "soft-on-soft" overmolding technology in this story. It's not that polymer maker Kraton Polymers (Houston, TX.), compounder AlphaGary (Leominster, MA), or even injection molder Slatebond (Wiltshire, UK) didn't want to cooperate. Rather their customer–whose idea it was to use a two-shot molding of different durometer materials for the handle of his high-line product–wouldn't budge.

Saturn Ion: Re-entry Vehicle

It's very easy to summarize any Saturn: "A spaceframe vehicle with polymer doors and fenders, horizontal headlamps, a side ‘swoosh' character line, and ‘Saturn' badges located behind the wheel openings in the front fenders." This also describes the 2003 Ion, which is available either as a sedan or a "Quad Coupe." It's the first nameplate–Saturns now have names, not just alphanumerics–to use GM's Delta architecture. It also replaces the 12-year-old Saturn S, and is a pretty impressive car.



High-performance underpinnings weren't enough. Infiniti's design team wanted to create a look that tied the G35 Coupe to its four-door counterpart, and recast the visual expectations for mainstream Sports GT cars.

Postcards from Portugal

This sliver of land with 10 million people on the Iberian peninsula may be known more in the U.S. for things like wine bottle corks, but there are 45,000 employed by the auto industry. Some of its plants are truly world-class.

In Search of Artificial Intelligence

Out on the production floor, nobody talks about AI or expert systems, even though the technology does exist and it's very much a part of automotive production.

A Systematic Approach To Environmental Improvements

When it comes to environmental sustainability, BASF is putting its resources where its rhetoric is and working toward making it happen.

Among the Innovative at IMTS

Here's a look at a few key developments displayed at the 2002 International Manufacturing Technology Show that should make parts production faster, better, and, yes, even sometimes cheaper.

Mistakes Made Lessons Learned

In his career, Herb Adams has pretty much done it all, and made mistakes along the way. Those stumbles, he claims, not only helped him grow, they are essential to the proper development of individuals, teams, and organizations.