Psssst. Hey & down here. I"m the headline about 20 column inches below the story about Balloon Boy. Keep looking down. Down. Just below that expose about Polanski. See me? Good. Don't tell anyone, but manufacturing's getting a bit better. In fact, manufacturing may be the thing that pulls us all out of the economic doldrums; at least that's how some are reacting to the Federal Reserve data released Friday.
Posts Tagged ‘Automotive Industry’
By: Kate Bachman
Alternative power trains, advanced propulsion technologies, and automotive battery power are all the buzz.
At the NanoBusiness Alliance conference I attended in September in Chicago, a great deal of discussion centered around announcements of the $2 billion U.S. federal grants awarded from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act designated for alternative-energy battery technology development. The crowd consensus was that the lion's share of the funds went to fund lithium-ion battery technology research.
The U.S. is the world's leading consumer of lithium and lithium compounds, according to the Mineral Information Institute. "It is estimated that the U.S. has approximately 760,000 tons of lithium. The resources in the rest of the world are estimated to be 12 million tons. The leading producers and exporters of lithium ore materials are Chile and Argentina. China and Russia have lithium ore resources also."
One audience member voiced what I think is an astute observation related to the goal of developing energy forms in the U.S. that reduce dependence on foreign sources for energy. "In embracing lithium-ion battery technology, are we trading our energy dependence on one region of the world for dependence on another?"
A Lead Acid Alternative Energy Battery?
Another battery company, Firefly Energy of Peoria, Ill., has developed a battery technology alternative to lithium-ion batteries using lead acid, one of the most abundant metals, in a patented microcell foam plate technology called Microcell. It is designed to increase battery power, capacity, and life at lower cost and lighter weight, he said.
"First, the heavy, corrosion-prone lead grids, which comprise up to 70 percent of a typical lead acid battery's weight, are replaced with a nontoxic material, so there's less lead to recycle at the end of life.
"Secondly, the lightweight foam is porous, and so has more surface area for the energy-generating chemistry to occur. This means that less lead chemistry is needed than in a lead acid battery.
Because the positive lead metal grids corrode and the negative metal grids sulfate, life is shortened in a typical lead acid battery, Ovan said. The company's foam is resilient against these two common failure modes, extending battery life.
Finally, batteries containing the Microcell foam plate technology can be recycled through the existing lead acid recycling infrastructure. In the U.S. alone, over 90 percent of lead acid batteries are recycled, according to Ovan.
Be sure to read Bernard Swiecki's topical column in this month's issue of STAMPING Journal, Automotive Intelligence (p. 32). It is an excellent overview of the three major battery technologies involved, as well as the differences in battery-powered power trains.
By: Vicki Bell
The August issue of "Stamping News Brief" (SNB) featured comments from an SNB reader responding to an item in the previous month's issue about employment in the metal stamping sector. This reader said, "I am soon to be unemployed, and there are really not many prospects around here for employment as an engineer. I currently am traveling 55 miles one way to work for 25 percent less than a year ago. As more and more people here in the U.S. have to accept lower paying jobs, I really do not know where the off-shoring companies expect to find their markets. China sure is not much of a market.
"[The company I work for] is a former automotive supplier with a <10PPM, but yet all of the former Big 3 are off-shoring the parts we made. With our bailout money, they are transferring our equipment. I used to be a staunch buy-American, but I believe [domestic automakers] have lost about 150 potential automobile buyers here. I sure hope they find their market in Costa Rica."
The August SNB then described how some talk show hosts and others in the U.S. have been calling for a boycott of GM and Chrysler and asked subscribers about their car buying plans.
By: Tim Heston
By: Vicki Bell
How bankruptcy and restructuring are changing the Detroit Three—What it means for suppliers
By Bernard Swiecki
With GM and Chrysler both undergoing bankruptcy restructuring procedures, the North American automotive industry of late 2009 and beyond will be forever different from that which preceded it.
By: Vicki Bell
This blog post is rooted in a discussion my husband and I had yesterday regarding a news item I ran across about a 'green' race car that runs on vegetable oil and waste chocolate. I get vegetable oil, but where on earth does waste chocolate come from? Godiva, Ghirardelli, Hershey, Fannie May, and other chocolate candy companies? An admitted chocoholic, I don"t understand waste chocolate; waist chocolate makes far more sense to me.
After talking about what a shame it is to use chocolate as fuel, we began talking about 'green' automotive initiatives in general. My husband's comments, courtesy of Bill Nye, the Science Guy, had me googling faster than an SSC Ultimate Aero.
By: Vicki Bell
"It's paid for" & three little words that have come to mean so much to so many. Could they have contributed to the automakers' troubles?
Case in point—yesterday my colleague, Tim, and I were talking about his recent new-car purchase. You may have read about the mishap involving his 11-year-old vehicle. Clouding his excitement about owning a brand-new car is the realization that he now has car payments. I understand completely.
My family has two vehicles, vintage 2000 and 2002. In spite of their ages and the fact that newer models look different and have more bells and whistles, we are quite fond of these automobiles. That they are paid for makes them even more attractive to us. I commented to Tim that I have less than 100,000 miles on my 2000 Jeep and intend to drive it for as long as it will run—or as long as I have someone to service it (we'll get to that).
By: Tim Heston
Officials at Die-Matic Corp., a Brooklyn Heights, Ohio, metal stamper, told The Wall Street Journal that 65 percent of its business still serves the automotive market, but the remaining revenue streams come from such sectors as mining, construction, and small appliances. The company also is looking to the medical industry for more work.
These kinds of stories have peppered the news in recent weeks. They're reports that show what's really happening on the ground. Economic pundits continue to argue about what direction the economy will take. Will it continue its upward climb or sink back down to become a double-dip recession? Meanwhile, manufacturers have been quietly making adjustments.
By: Tim Heston
I was going to write something about alternative energy today, but I found a new motivation after reading comments made by Japanese media that were reported in the June 8 issue of Automotive News.
Apparently the Japanese public believes that the demise of both GM and Chrysler is proof that U.S. automakers can't compete with the likes of Toyota and Honda. It's time to gloat.
By: Dan Davis
I'm always pulling for underdogs. They receive little respect, and their stories are often more fascinating than those darlings standing in the spotlight.
That's why I'm pulling for GM. No one thinks it has much of a chance for a recovery, and people are calling the $20 billion invested in the company and the other $30 billion slated to be invested a waste. It's a big deal, and the subject of small talk all over the country.
I'm not totally stupid. To think that the U.S. government will be in a position to recoup the almost $100 billion it has invested in both GM and Chrysler is farcical. But who's to say it couldn't recoup some or most of it? I think it's possible for GM.
Here are some reasons why I think that may happen:
- The demand for automobiles will return, and all manufacturers will benefit. Let's not pretend that this downturn in the auto industry was just a GM problem; it affected all companies. Even Toyota has seen global market share slip almost two points, from 18.4 percent to 16.5 percent, over the last year, and Ford only avoided coming to the government because of shrewd moves made by its CEO Alan Mullaly. Auto sales have stabilized, which could be a precursor to even more consumer activity.
- GM has finally rid itself of its burden of too many brands. Pontiac was the performance division, but why did Chevrolet dealers sell Corvettes and promote SS versions of its vehicles? Saturn started out as GM's small car brand, but that's not what it is today. GM will keep Chevrolet and Cadillac around, while also keeping the Buick brand for its Asian markets and GMC because the company earns its highest return on sales on those trucks. The smaller product lineup should give the company better market focus.
- The bureaucracy is crumbling. GM always had a problem evaluating its own efforts. Now with the changes in personnel and company structure, some people are reporting that a sort of entrepreneurial atmosphere exists in some corners of GM. One online report theorized that GM could vacate its downtown Detroit fortress and relocate to its technical center in the suburbs.
- GM is building pretty good cars. The company always will sell trucks because that's all some people will buy. However, the Chevy Malibu and Traverse are example of vehicles that are getting the attention of non-typical Chevrolet buyers.
So call it Government Motors. Call it Gimmee More. Call it what you want. I just know that things work out best for taxpayers if GM succeeds. I hope it's taking the right steps to make that happen.