June 17th, 2009 at 12:27pm
Suppliers in the American market failed again to obtain financial help from the government. American Axle is seeking a court order to get one of its steel suppliers to resume deliveries. A unique way to use cars to generate electricity is being used in England. All that and more, plus John answers viewer questions in the “You Said It!” segment.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Treasury to suppliers, “drop dead.” American Axle sues a supplier to resume shipments. And a unique way to use cars to generate electricity.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, June 17, 2009. And now, the news.
Suppliers in the American market failed again to obtain financial help from the government. The Original Equipment Suppliers Association asked the U.S. Treasury for up to $10 billion so suppliers can buy raw materials and pay employees. But the Associated Press reports that the Treasury doesn’t see a need since it doesn’t see any supply disruptions. From my vantage point that’s like sailing into a minefield and saying, “Well, nothing’s blown up, yet.”
And here’s a good example of that. American Axle is seeking a court order to get one of its steel suppliers to resume deliveries. According to the AP, Republic Engineered Products stopped shipments to American Axle because they wanted volume commitments due to American Axle’s weak financial condition. American Axle makes components for GM trucks and SUVs but it’s not expected to affect GM at the moment because the automaker has virtually stopped all truck production.
As we reported a week ago, Volkswagen objects to the supplier company Magna getting part of Opel. VW says that would give Opel an unfair advantage, since Magna is a supplier to VW and would know its future product plans. But at the National Summit in Detroit, Don Walker, the Co-CEO of Magna told Autoline Daily, that Magna would establish firewalls between Opel and Magna’s supplier business. He notes this is how most suppliers handle the business they do with different automakers, but he added if Magna does become a part owner of Opel, it would need a different type of firewall.
At the Detroit Auto Show last January, Audi unveiled a stunning concept called the Sportback. It was a highly styled four-door hatchback with lots of production potential. Now the company is hinting at what the market version of the car will look like. It released a small video of the vehicle being sketched by its Chief Designer, Wolfgang Egger. The illustration doesn’t show very much, but it at least gives you a feel for what the car will look like. The company also released a tantalizing teaser photo showing a small part of the hatch. Look for the A5 Sportback at dealers this September.
UK supermarket chain Sainsbury has implemented a new green energy generator at one of its locations. “Kinetic road plates” have been installed at the company’s new “green store” in Gloucester, England. The parking lot features large pads. As cars drive over them their weight pushes on the pads, which generates power. The system is expected to produce about 30 kilowatts of electricity per hour, which is about 4 times as much power needed to run the average home.
Researchers at MIT created a nickel-tungsten alloy that is more durable and safer to make than chrome (subscription required). Today, making chrome uses electroplating, which runs an electrical current through a liquid of chromium ions to deposit a thin layer coating on the metal and the process is repeated multiple times. This is not only unfriendly to the environment but it’s also hazardous to workers. The MIT process applies the coating in one step. According to Ward’s, the new coating could be used for engine parts and shock absorbers but is now being tested on bumpers.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback. This is “You Said It!” Every day we get dozens of comments and questions from you, our viewers. “You Said It!” gives me a chance to respond.
Mouhamed Naboulsi saw our report on the Mercedes braking bag, an airbag under the car that deploys to help drag the car to a stop to avoid an accident. He says, “Mercedes’ braking concept is brilliant. But, how will they control body YAW?”
Mouhamed, first off, the wheels are still in contact with the pavement so the yaw control will still be somewhat effective. Second, that bag only triggers in the case of an imminent collision and my guess is that the number one priority at that point is to stop the car more than worry about the yaw.
Michael J. Brown picks up on that and says, “Why don’t they make airbags that protect the car too? In the case of fender-benders just think of how many front and rear bumpers could be spared, and how many insurance deductibles too, by having airbags that deploy from out of bumpers.”
Interesting concept Michael, but it’s ironic in that bumpers were first put on cars to protect them, and now we’re going to put airbags on to protect the bumpers? Second, it costs a lot of money to replace an airbag, so you’d still be socked with insurance deductibles. I like the idea that the industry was exploring after World War II when they were looking at putting retro rockets on the front of a car, with the idea of firing them off in case of imminent collision and bringing the car to a dead stop. I think they dropped the idea when the realized, “What if you’re trying to avoid hitting a pedestrian?”
Puremoose, I think you nailed it. I think Honda went with thin glass all the way around the save weight to get good fuel economy, and that’s why the rear view mirror, which is mounted to the windshield vibrates so much.
Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours tomorrow night at 7 p.m. Eastern or 2300 hours GMT when Mark LaNeve, who runs all sales, marketing and advertising at General Motors joins Jason Vines, Peter De Lorenzo and me in the studio. I tell you, I can’t wait for that show, it’s going to be a good one.
That’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.