Chinese automotive supplier to build $45 million manufacturing facility in Kansas City
Yanfeng USA Automotive Trim Systems is to build a new manufacturing plant at Riverside near Kansas City for the production of door panels, floor consoles and instrument panels. Yanfeng, a subsidiary of Yanfeng Visteon (China), is a supplier of General Motors. Production will begin early next year.
Welding Journal, vol.92, no.6. June 2013. p.8.
JLR to invest in UK as profits surge
Jaguar Land Rover has outlined plans to invest £2.75bn this year on the back of record sales and profits, driven by demand in China. The company said it would spend heavily in Britain after seeing rising sales in all key markets. Before-tax profits rose 11% to £1.68bn in the year to March 2013 on revenues up 17% to £15.8bn, as retail sales rose by 22%.
The Daily Telegraph, 30th May 2013, p.B1.
H4>GERMANY: Europe-wide EV charging introduced
Hubject's Intercharge eRoaming platform went live during the International Emobility Conference in Berlin hosted by the German federal government. 'Charge wherever you like' is the tagline of the brand, owned by a joint venture between BMW group, Bosch, Daimler, EnBW, RWE and Siemens. Users can charge their vehicles at stations compatible with Intercharge under a single contract. The only requirement is that their provider be connected to the eRoaming system. All charge stations allowing for cross-provider use have the intercharge symbol. Alongside partners from Germany and the Benelux countries, several Austrian charging infrastructure operators are also involved.
www.just-auto.com Daily News, 29 May 2013.
UK: Tata's Jaguar Land Rover books 11% profit boost
Jaguar Land Rover booked record sales, revenues and pre-tax profit for the full fiscal year to 31 March, 2013. Retail sales rose 22% to 374,636 units for revenue up 17% to £15.8bn and pre-tax profit was up 11% to £1,675M. Fiscal year new product launches included the redesigned Range Rover, Jaguar XF Sportbrake [wagon] plus AWD and new market-specific engines for the Jaguar XF and XJ. China unit sales rose 48%, Asia Pacific 27%, UK 20%, Europe 18%, North America 9% and other export markets 19%. CEO Ralf Speth said the company would spend about £2.75bn on new products, staff and infrastructure in the current fiscal year. JLR is building an engine plant in Wolverhampton, set to open in 2015, which will reduce its dependence on engines from former owner Ford and that automaker's JVs. (Item contains no further information.)
www.just-auto.com Daily News, 30 May 2013.
JAPAN: Panasonic to cut 5,000 jobs from automotive and industrial unit
Panasonic has announced that it will lay off approximately 5,000 workers from its automotive and industrial unit, as part of efforts to boost its operating profit margin over the coming three years to a 5% minimum set by company president Kazuhiko Tsuga. Yoshihiko Yamada, head of Panasonic's automotive and industrial division, told Reuters, 'A reduction in labour costs will be a big part of our plan to improve profitability'. The division employs 110,000 people, around one-third of Panasonic's workforce. It deals with automotive components, semiconductors, production machinery and other devices, and is at the forefront of Tsuga's strategy to move Panasonic away from consumer electronics to developing gadgets and machinery that are sold to other companies. (Item contains no further information.)
www.just-auto.com Daily News, 31 May 2013.
UK: SMMT announces new chief executive
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has announced that its new CEO will be Michael Hawes. Hawes has over 20 years’ experience in policy and public affairs, the majority of which was in the motor industry. He joins SMMT from Bentley Motors where he held a number of PR, corporate and public affairs roles. He has also worked for both Toyota and, more recently, Bentley’s parent company, Volkswagen. He will take up his new post in early autumn. The SMMT said that he will lead the executive team that will promote the interests and successes of the UK motor industry and address current challenges. He will 'also ensure the SMMT delivers stronger representation and engagement with all its stakeholders and help accelerate growth of the two key subsidiary companies: SMMT Industry Forum and Motor Codes'.
www.just-auto.com Daily News, 3 June 2013.
May 2013 management briefing: ASEAN growth prospects (2)
Looks at developments in the major automotive markets of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Of the five major ASEAN markets (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam), the growth drivers have been Thailand and Malaysia, with Indonesia emerging as a major player. Analysts Frost & Sullivan estimate growth at a compound annual growth rate of 10% from 2011 to 2018. Provides detailed individual forecasts for Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. The ASEAN Automotive Federation has worked to abolish tariffs, remove non-tariff barriers, streamline customs procedures and harmonise technical regulations. This process has taken time, and is still not complete, but should be finished by 2015. Theoretically, this should open up the ASEAN market. However, one fear is that the Chinese automakers, whose own R&D capabilities are expanding at a rapid rate, will start to target ASEAN with Chinese-produced vehicles, produced at a lower cost.
www.just-auto.com Daily News, 29 May 2013.
Getting the chemistry right
Batteries must be made lighter to help boost the range of electric vehicles. Asks a number of experts for their opinions on this topic. Suggestions include: decreasing the weight of the battery housing by using different materials, such as aluminium or include the housing in the car structure; use of higher density materials which will offer significant opportunities to reduce the weight of the overall battery system; and the use of alternative materials for mechanical parts. However, concludes that battery weight will not be significantly reduced until chemistries are developed that can replace lithium-ion.
Automotive Engineer, May 2013. pp.30-31.
Greater than the sum of its parts
Getting the most from mass reduction takes more than just lighter body structures - optimising everything is essential. A range of experts explain how their technologies are making vehicles more energy efficient. Ideas include: the use of higher strength to increase torque and minimise packaging; optimisation of systems design; the integration of multiple systems; the use of stronger materials to enable smaller engines that still achieve the same performance; the use of tailored materials, new joining technologies active exhaust systems; designs that are optimised for performance, cost and weight; component integration; and the replacement of metal with fibre-reinforced plastics.
Automotive Engineer, May 2013. pp.32-36.
Joined-up thinking for lightweight structures
The difficulty of joining composites to dissimilar materials is one of the reasons why they have not found wider application in the motor industry. Now TWI has developed a process to overcome this problem. The Surfi-Script process uses an electron beam or a laser to modify the surface of the metal to improve the adherence of the composite. Fine control of the surface parameters means that a variety of shapes and sizes can be optimised to suit the requirements of each joint. A TWI engineer said 'we can more than double the strength of the joint and hugely increase the displacement before failure'.
Automotive Engineer, May 2013. p.41.
The speed of light
Reports that the new Jaguar sports car uses an aluminium body structure that helps to keep kerb weights as low as 1,597kg, enabling the entry-level 250kW/450Nm V6 model to accelerate to 100km/h in 5.3s. Structural adhesives and some 2,500 rivets join together the body's 141 pressings, 18 castings and 24 extrusions - there are no welds. The detailing required in the clamshell bonnet and rear fenders meant developing new grades of aluminium with supplier Novelis. New manufacturing processes such as warm form were also developed. Says that the advances in aluminium and joining technologies developed here will make Jaguar's next-generation sedans lighter and more fuel-efficient.
Automotive Engineer, May 2013. p.42.
Streamlining the big box
Reports how glass fibre-reinforced thermoplastics are helping the commercial trucking industry optimise weight, fuel and cost savings. As well as weight reduction, the use of composites also brings secondary benefits that include dent- and corrosion-resistance, noise damping, reduced maintenance and prolonged use life. Details some of the ways in which composites are being used on trucks including as interior liners, scuffbands, subflooring and on the exterior as aerodynamic devices.
Composites Technology, June 2013. pp.26-31. http://tinyurl.com/6j4hz3uh
Business Minister Michael Fallon makes first visit to MINI Plant Oxford
On Friday 31 May Managing Director Frank Bachmann and several first-year apprentices gave Michael Fallon a tour of the plant, including its recently-opened state-of-the-art training facilities. New investment at the factory represents the major part of BMW’s £750M UK investment programme, which involves building an extension to the bodyshop and implementing technological upgrades to its paintshop and assembly operations. Three UK plants are involved in MINI production: Hams Hall makes the new MINI petrol engines, Plant Swindon produces body pressings and sub-assemblies, and all this comes together at Oxford with body shell production, paint and final assembly. More than two million cars have been made at the Oxford site and 80% are exported to more than 90 countries around the world.
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Network Rail told by regulator to cut costs by £2bn
Network Rail has been told by the rail regulator that it must find savings of £2bn over the next five years at the same time as improving punctuality. But the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) said the cost cuts must not come at the expense of safety. It said at least nine out of 10 trains must run on time on all routes by 2019. Network Rail welcomed the plans and said it would respond in September after analysing the findings. Last week the ORR said Network Rail had missed all of its punctuality targets for England and Wales last year. The figures came a day after it was revealed that the company's net debt had reached more than £30bn. If Network Rail keeps missing punctuality targets, it faces a fine of up to £75m from the ORR. The company is held responsible for delays caused by signal failures or relating to problems with train tracks.
BBC News online, 12th June 2013.
Composite railroad ties multiply in metro commuter rail line
AXION has announced several new contracts for its ECOTRAX rail ties, the latest being from a Metrorail system in Florida. Due to Miami's coastal tropical climate, rail ties are exposed to hostile conditions that include very high levels of rainfall, sun exposure and sea salt, as well as termites. Traditional wood rail ties offer a shorter service life in this environment and ECOTRAX is designed to be an alternative that offers both environmental benefits and a higher financial return on investment due to the ties' much longer service life and performance capabilities.
Composites Technology, June 2013. p.10. http://ct.epubxp.com/title/9556