Awesome in Aluminum

Although aluminum per se is not ordinarily considered an "advanced material," there can be little question that the Ferrari F430 is among the world's most advanced motor vehicles, so given that, and given the extensive use of aluminum on the F430—following the firm's success with the all-aluminum 360 Modena—in some ways aluminum can qualify as an advanced material.Ferrari's goals with the F430 material selection were two-fold: structural stiffness and safety without adding weight.

Ultracapacitors Getting More Competitive

Is there an ultracapacitor in your future?

Microsoft's Next Generation

There's a good reason why Microsoft (; Redmond, WA) just released the latest version of its automotive-grade software platform—Windows Automotive 5.0—first in Japan rather than anywhere else in the world. "There is a night and day difference between the current status of Japanese navigation system development and that of the U.S. and Europe," says Peter Wengert, group manager, sales and marketing, Microsoft Corp.'s Automotive Business Unit.

Crash Sensors That Hear

Siemens VDO Automotive (Troy, MI;; Troy, MI) has developed a sensor that speeds vehicle crash detection by "hearing" the impact, rather than measuring deceleration.

Speeding Telematics Development

"Automakers have a lot of high-end processors in their vehicles, but they don't have a great strategy for how those processors are going to share data," says John Smolucha, vice president, Marketing, Encirq Corp. (; Burlingame, CA). And that has become a major problem.

Change Times Two

While many people have a tough enough time dealing with even the least bit of change—which, incidentally, is understandable but inappropriate behavior, especially in these times of turbulence—Luc de Brabandere, former director-general of the Brussels Stock Exchange and a consultant currently with The Boston Consulting Group (clearly, the man has some bona fides) thinks that it is necessary for people, when they make a change, not to make just a change, but to make two changes.

Light Speed Lexus

Introduced to the public at the 2005 North American International Auto Show in January, the Lexus LF-A concept is reportedly quickly moving toward production.

Lean Work Area On Wheels

The Kaizen Work Shop is a portable work station (it rolls on wheels) that consists of a series of coated pipes and joints forming the skeletal structure and a work surface on top (the larger of the two available units measures 4 x 8-ft). A series of tiltable storage bins, boxes and racks are located below the surface and can be arranged as required.

Volvo Drops Its Top

Volvo has released the first official photos of its second generation C70 that will make its official debut at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Aluminum: The Answer in the Safety vs. Fuel Economy Debate?

Every time CAFÉ standards come up for discussion, the debate over the effect weight and size have on occupant safety comes to the fore. "There is this tendency to equate lightweighting and downsizing," says Mike Bull, director of Automotive Technology, Novelis Corp. (Novi, MI;, "when they are not the same thing in terms of crash performance." Not wanting to be left out of the twin debates over fuel economy and safety, the Aluminum Association (Troy, MI; commissioned a study showing how lightweight materials can preserve vehicle size and safety performance while improving fuel economy. "We want to make sure aluminum isn't left out of the debate by having regulators concentrate on weight as the overriding safety factor like they have done in the past," says Tom Gannon, v.p., Sales and Marketing, Novelis.After selecting the Ford Explorer as the typical SUV, the team created an aluminum version with the same crash pulse as its steel counterpart by calibrating it against the Explorer's actual NCAP (National Crash Assessment Program) results.

TI Automotive Opens $30-Million Plant in Georgia

TI Automotive (Warren, MI; has opened a new plant in Hartwell, Georgia, northeast of Atlanta, for the production of blow-molded fuel tanks and 3D blow molded filler pipes.

Nissan's Intelligent Plant

When Nissan built its Canton, Mississippi manufacturing plant, with a plan to launch six new models in 14 months, it needed as much intelligence on the manufacturing floor as possible.

Looking @ Subaru's B9 Tribeca

The name sounds like a vitamin shot administered in Robert De Niro's New York neighborhood, but belongs to the first 7-passenger vehicle in Subaru's lineup: B9 Tribeca.

High-Efficiency Hondas

Leave it to the engineers at Honda to make an engine for the 2006 Civic that is physically smaller and lighter, has a larger swept area, has more power, and that consumes less fuel than its predecessor.

Ford's New Face in Nascar

We won't bore you with trite words on the similarities between the production and NASCAR versions of the Ford Fusion because our gift for creative writing isn't that wide or deep.

Assembly 101

What's happening on the plant floor?

Ford Gets Tougher In Trucks

"Texas is truck country, and Ford is the truck manufacturer of choice," insists Darryl Hazel, Ford Div. president, speaking at Grande Ford Truck Sales in San Antonio, as the company launched another in its fleet of commercial trucks, the 2006 Ford LCF.

Look What's Cooking at Dana

It's amazing what you can do with a kitchen appliance these days.


On Strategy: Going East: Auto Industry Growth in Russia

Over the past few years, Central and Eastern Europe have become major sales markets for the auto-motive industry.

EuroAuto: The Future of Electronics at Audi

What does the future hold at Audi?

Insight: Why Consumer Research Matters to Suppliers

In April's column we looked at the multiple voices within the OEM customer that suppliers have to consider as they build their "voice of the industrial customer" strategy.

Dudder: Learning Chinese

The debate around the table moved from the troubles faced by the Big Three to the eventual Chinese invasion of the American auto market.

Marginal: Unconventional Innovation

One of the more astounding stats that I’ve come across is from the Specialty Equipment Manufact-urers Association (SEMA;, the organization consisting primarily of firms that provide automotive aftermarket accessories, and which is known for the phenomenal show that it holds each year in Las Vegas (this year November 1-4). The stat is this: the market SEMA represents is $29-billion a year.


What You Need To Know About Blade Systems

Blade systems are compact and efficient compute servers that primarily save space and power, infrastructure, and compute management. Blades also cut costs. Here's how.

Big Plastic Panels Done In One (Molding Machine)

"This material, this process, this application is a game-changer."That's Ken Shaner, vp, Manufacturing Engineering at Lear Corp. (Southfield, MI; talking about a new injection molding technology.

The Natural Choice

Mixing natural fibers like hemp and kenaf with thermoplastics put FlexForm on the map–and in the door panels of Chrysler's Sebring convertible. However, the combination of rising oil prices and exterior applications could drive its utilization even higher.

Magneti Marelli Redefines Rear Suspension Design

Multi-link independent rear suspensions have numerous advantages, but cost isn't one of them. A flexible new design out of Italy, however, promises all of the benefits and none of the compromises at a lower cost.

Chassis Considerations

Whereas chassis considerations were once rather mechanical and discrete, today the name of the game includes electronics and systems-level integration. Here are some things to think about.

Directly Speaking About Direct Injection

Direct injection is the coming technology for both gasoline and diesel engines, according to Bosch. How quickly it arrives depends on overcoming some technical hurdles, and convincing automakers and consumers that they can have their cake and eat it, too.

Looking @ The Chevy HHR

Meant to compete with products including the Scion xB, Honda Element, and, yes, the Chrysler PT Cruiser, this vehicle not only provides Chevy with still another competitive vehicle in the small-size arena, but it further leverages GM's global product architecture.

Saab Expands

Can an SUV built in Moraine, Ohio, USA, be a bona-fide Saab? Well, the division of General Motors is finding out as it expands the brand with an SUV that has its roots in a platform engineered for Chevrolet and other domestic nameplates but set upon by swedish engineers and designers.