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2005 Chicago Auto Show.

NAME: HONDA CIVIC SI CONCEPT

Vehicle Type: 2-door coupe

Reason for Being: Honda must regain street cred with the tuner community.

Engineering Aspects: Under the black hood sits a 200-hp, DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder that spins to 8,000 rpm. It's mated to a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox, and boasts a helical-type limited-slip differential. The 225/40R18 tires wrap 18-in. cast aluminum wheels whose six-spoke pattern show just enough of the cross-drilled rotors and four-piston Brembo brake calipers to indicate the Civic Si Concept's serious intent.

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Also Know This: Honda has rediscovered it soul. Strip off the front and side aero kits, rear wing, black hood, and under-bumper rear diffuser and you have the standard 2006 Civic Coupe. Add back some of the body parts, and you have the Si version you'll see in dealerships this Fall. Put it all back in place, slap a "Type R" badge on the back, and you have the ultra-high-performance version expected in 2008.

NAME: DODGE NITRO

Vehicle Type: Mid-size SUV

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Reason for Being: To give Dodge an entry-level SUV by expanding Jeep Liberty production.

Engineering Aspects: Extend the current Liberty's wheelbase exactly 4 in., its overall length by 5.3, add 1.5-in. to width, subtract 1.1-in. from its height and you have the basic dimensions of the Nitro. Power comes from the 3.7-liter V6 and 42RLE four-speed automatic transmission used in the Liberty. The suspension is an independent SLA design in front, and a five-link with solid axle in back. Estimated weight is a stout 4,115 lbs. It has a roll-out load floor borrowed from Mercedes' E-Class wagon.

Also Know This: Design chief Trevor Creed assures us that "if" the Nitro reaches production, the production model will be just like the concept--except for the five coats of hand-rubbed candy apple red metallic paint.

NAME: 2005 KIA SEDONA

Vehicle Type: Mom's taxi--a minivan

Reason for Being: To increase Kia's share of the minivan market while filling competitors with sheer terror.

Engineering Aspects: Built on a new platform that is longer, wider, and lighter than its predecessor, the 2006 Sedona has 15% more interior room. It is aimed at the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. Standard equipment includes dual front, front seat-mounted side, and full-length side curtain airbags; ABS; electronic brake force distribution; a tire pressure monitoring system; and active front head restraints. There's a new all-aluminum, 24-valve 3.8-liter V6 producing 240 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. It's mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. McPherson struts are used up front while the rear suspension is a fully independent multi-link design. Four-wheel disc brakes are standard.

Also Know This: Kia has hired Tom Kearns away from GM to be its head of Design, so look for more U.S.--specific vehicles from the Korean company.

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NAME: TOYOTA FJ CRUISER

Vehicle Type: Mid-size SUV

Reason for Being: Extending Toyota's bid for world dominance into the SUV sector by building on the lessons learned from Scion.

Engineering Aspects: The five-passenger FJ sits on a modified Toyota 4Runner platform, and utilizes the same powertrain. A five-speed automatic transmission (on both 4X2 and 4X4 models) or six-speed manual (4X2 only) mates to a 4.0-liter V6 producing 245 hp and 282 lb-ft of torque. Four-wheel disc brakes and 17-in. steel wheels are standard, as is Toyota's Star Safety System (stability control, traction control, ABS, electronic brake force distribution, and brake assist). Optional equipment includes alloy wheels, rear differential lock, electronic four-wheel traction control on 4X4 models, running boards, backup assist, front seat-mounted airbags, full side curtain airbags, and more.

Also Know This: This is Toyota's first "heritage" vehicle, but will not be sold at a premium. Toyota is promising a "very low price."

NAME: 2006 BUICK LUCERNE

Vehicle Type: Full-size luxury sedan

Reason for Being: To reestablish Buick in the mid-luxury segment with a car that doesn't carry an automatic AARP discount.

Engineering Aspects: This is the first Buick to offer Magnetic Ride Control and StabiliTrak, and the first Buick car in 10 years to offer a V8 (the Rainier SUV has one, too). The 32-valve Northstar engine produces 275 hp. (A 195-hp 3800 V6 is standard.) The array of airbags is emphasized by GM: a dual-stage driver's bag, a dual-depth front passenger's bag, side-impact thorax airbags, and side curtain airbags. It will be built at GM's Hamtramck Assembly Center alongside the mechanically similar Cadillac DTS.

Also Know This: The Lucerne is claimed to be the first Buick to bear the full stamp of Bob Lutz.

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NAME: 2006 MERCURY MILAN

Vehicle Type: Mid-size sedan

Reason for Being: To give Mercury a credible contender in the mid-size sedan segment.

Engineering Aspects: A twin to the Ford Fusion and Lincoln Zephyr--and the Mazda6 that provided the architecture and powertrain for all--the Milan has a standard 160-hp 2.3-liter four-cylinder mated to either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox. The optional 3.0-liter Duratec V6 has 210 hp--seven more than the larger Ford 500/Mercury Montego--200 lb-ft of torque, and comes standard with a six-speed automatic. The inline four has a PZEV emissions rating while the V6 will get a ULEV II rating. In 2007, the Milan will add AWD, while 2008 will see a hybrid model join the lineup.

Also Know This: Internally, the Mercury Milan goes by the soft-ware-like name of Mazda6 version 3.0.

NAME: HYUNDAI PORTICO CONCEPT

Vehicle Type: Six-passenger people hauler

Reason for Being: To preview the two new seven-passenger vehicles Hyundai will launch within the next year.

Engineering Aspects: The Portico has rear suicide doors, no B-pillar, and a panoramic glass roof with adjustable transparency. In other words, things you shouldn't expect to see in production. Two rows of three seats dominate the interior; the seats can be staggered to increase leg and shoulder room. Power comes from Hyundai's Lambda V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic. Portico is designed to accept Hyundai's hybrid drive system, which has one electric motor (110 kW) driving the front wheels and a second (60 kW) driving the rears.

Also Know This: The Portico is built on the minivan platform found under the 2006 Kia Sedona.--CAS

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REALLY HELPFUL SOFTWARE--REALLY

"The goal was to create a product that didn't add any more burden to the already software-overburdened end user." That's John Alpine, chief technology officer at CoCreate Software (www.cocreate.com; Fort Collins, CO), talking about, oddly enough, software that the company developed called "OneSpace.net2005." (Yes, it is built on Microsoft's.NET framework.) Not only did they work toward developing a product that wouldn't be burdensome (there is a version that runs in a hosted environment, which means that CoCreate handles the IT lifting; users just deal with the simplicity of a browser and then engage in the hard work of developing products), but they also developed something that, he says, is an answer to a problem that many people within a product development organization don't know there is a software solution for. (And as they don't know that there is a solution, it is something that may not be budgeted for.)

It is a software solution primarily for the supply chain. But it's not what people ordinarily think of when the words "supply chain" and "software" are in close proximity. It is not about logistics or manufacturing issues. Rather, it is about communications. Communicating about products being developed. A software product that was developed to handle the heavy graphics requirements of engineering applications--a.k.a., CAD files. In order to understand the importance of "seeing" while trying to collaboratively develop something, Alpine suggests that you try to imagine holding a conversation among people who are at different locations about an axle. "Look at the front," someone might say. Unless everyone is on the proverbial (though in this case digital) same page, what is "front" for one person, isn't going to be that for another.

Alpine asks, "If there is a design issue, even if you and I have the same CAD system, how am I going to communicate with your design team to say that my part is going to have an impact on your part?" Which is why it is important to not only be able to look at the same images, but to be able to communicate about them. Which is to say that OneSpace.net2005 goes beyond simply sharing CAD files to fully facilitating communications for developers.

The software product works in real-time so meetings can be held without people being present in the same physical space. (Alpine says that once companies could rent a warehouse in the Detroit area and get all of the project people in the same place. That was then. This isn't.)

It is a software package that is open for all types of environments, he says: multi-CAD; multi-PLM. So even though one project may be underway in UGS and another is in CATIA, this is not an issue, he says, as regards the CoCreate software, as it was developed to be neutral. He explains, "Project teams often straddle several companies," Alpine says, then remarks that it is unlikely that there is complete homogeneity across all of the companies. Even if a Tier One supplier has the required CAD systems to work with its customers, Alpine suggests that they may not also have a one-each PLM system, too. Given that project developments require information beyond the pure geometric, having the capability to include information that would otherwise be contained within a PLM system (e.g., text files) is essential. So what they've developed is a product that handles IGES, STEP, ACIS, DXF, DWG files, as well as the ability to create PDF and XML documents. Alpine notes that the environment is a secure one.

Apparently, CoCreate personnel initially thought that OneSpace.net would be taken up by electronics contract manufacturers, which have exceedingly long supply chains. What they've discovered, however, is that automotive Tier Ones have shown more interest, perhaps because of the nature of the designs involved (e.g., mechanical rather than electrical), perhaps because of the fact that they're becoming more global and need to communicate to their own far-flung facilities, perhaps because of the heterogeneous nature of working with various OEMs, perhaps because they're looking for a way to decrease development times ... perhaps because of all of these things.--GSV

THE ITP2 CONTROL STRATEGY

The Indiana Transmission Plant II (ITP2; Kokomo, IN) of the Chrysler Group is where the W5A580 rear-drive transmission is produced for vehicles including the Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum, and Jeep Grand Cherokee. According to Julian Joe, DaimlerChrysler Advance Manufacturing Engineering (AME) controls/plant engineering manager, the facility has over 250 different pieces of equipment, including machine tools, material handling equipment, and transfer lines. Based on the experience at two other transmission plants in Kokomo, when the plant was being equipped there was a specific controls strategy established. This included the need for operator interface commonality--"a common PC front end on all of the controls," in the words of Kulraj Randhawu, AME controls engineer--as well as connectivity between the various controls. Approximately 160 CNC and 400 ancillary PLC devices are required for the transmission plant.

The selection was made for a control strategy based on systems from Siemens (Siemens Machine Tool Business; Elk Grove Village, IL; www.SiemensCNC.com). There is TRANSLINE, an automotive-specific application developed for the integration of powertrain manufacturing functions--milling, turning, drilling, grinding, assembling, and testing--under a common architecture. This system utilizes the functionality of the SINUMERIK CNC and SIMATIC PLC platforms. Even though the plant utilizes equipment from 40 different machine builders, there is one control approach. "This system made training easier for the ITP2 operators and the maintenance service teams, who could work on various machines with greater efficiency and drastically reduced learning curves."

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PROFIBUS is used for networking. Notes Yancy Laubsch, Chrysler control engineer, "Because of the simplicity of the PROFIBUS system, there are far fewer hardware I/O issues."

Even though there is such an array of equipment, the common architecture approach contributed to a solid start-up for this plant that is producing some of the most--if not the most--transmissions within the Chrysler Group lineup. According to Ed Von-dell, ITP2 plant manager, "This was the most successful start-up in Chrysler Group history, despite the considerable challenges of creating such a unified production picture."

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WEIGHT SENSOR

Texas Instruments Sensors and Controls (www.tisensors.com; Attleboro, MA) has developed a force-based occupant weight sensor targeted at the advanced air bag deployment systems now mandated by federal law. The sensor uses strain gauge micro-fused technology to measure the weight of a seat occupant, which TI claims is more accurate than alternatives like magnetic or impression-based methods. The sensors are designed to fit existing seat structures either above or below the seat track.

LEARNING TO SWIM

One of the greatest automotive successes in recent years is MINI. The legendary icon, long overshadowed by other vehicles, was resurrected by BMW and has gained plaudits and sales in equally high proportions. People who would otherwise drive a variety of other types of cars--anything from the least-expensive Asian imports to even mid-lux products--proudly put themselves behind the wheel of a MINI. Think about what they've done with that product. As it is comparatively inexpensive--starting at less than $17K--it can appeal to young people who are on a budget. Because it is stylish and legendary, going back to the original product of Sir Alec Issigonis of 1959, it appeals to those whose incomes would permit them to buy vehicles that cost two or three times as much.

The MINI is probably a product that falls under the approach described by Mauborgne and Kim, the strategy that they call "blue ocean." The blue ocean is contrasted with the one that is red. Red as in bloody. As the authors point out, while it is required to deal with the rigors of the red ocean, "with supply exceeding demand in more industries, competing for a share of contracting markets, while necessary, will not be sufficient to sustain high performance." In other words, going after the competition by offering similar but "better" products (doesn't everyone always think that their latest is always better than that which has come before?), by competing on the basis of things like price (or rebates), is not the way that companies can realize improved profitability. Everyone does it. Few, by contrast, take the blue ocean approach, which is to develop comparatively uncontested market space.

Kim and Mauborgne aren't proponents of doing what many consultants advise, such as benchmarking the competition--which merely means that you gauge your products against theirs, which perhaps helps you develop a temporary flotation device but not much more--or conducting focus groups among customers and prospects, because those people may not realize what can be: and it is your job to deliver on that which isn't the status quo (not even if it is a "better" version of what's out there). They note, "As you shift your strategic focus from current competition to alternatives and noncustomers, you gain insight into how to redefine the problem the industry focuses on and thereby reconstruct buyer value elements that reside across industry boundaries. Conventional strategic logic, by contrast, drives you to offer better solutions than your rivals to existing problems defined by your industry." Being better, faster, cheaper is good. But providing something that's different is genuinely better. And provides a significantly superior return.

While they don't use MINI as an example, but rather such things as Cirque du Soleil (which clearly redefined what it is to be a circus) and Callaway Golf (which created the Big Bertha to address the needs of non- or not-very-good golfers), consider: here is a car that combines cleverness and quality, low price and even performance (with a supercharged version at about $21K). Yes, it is still a car. But what do the competitors do? What products do they put up against it? By the time the competitors respond, there is a convertible version. And then there will be something else, something different.

In an aptly named poem, In Memoriam, Tennyson wrote of "Nature, red in tooth and claw." Competition can be bloody if approached in a traditional manner. Yet Blue Dcean Strategy describes what is clearly a better way. No less difficult--perhaps more so, as it requires thinking in a new way ("when we ask executives what prompts them to seek out blue oceans and introduce change, they usually say that it takes a highly determined leader or a serious crisis"), which is discomforting, to say the least. But prosperity doesn't come to the timid, and if the overcapacity and general commoditization of the auto industry don't represent a crisis, then it is hard to imagine when there would be a better time to think things anew.--GSV

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant

By W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne Harvard Business School Press ($27.95)

THE CHINESE QUESTION

According to Bosch Rexroth (Lohr, Germany; www.boschrexroth.com) chairman Manfred Grundke, the factory automation company must establish an R & D base in China to meet the needs of the indigenous market, protect the company from theft of its intellectual property, and prepare for the day when Chinese suppliers develop products better able to compete with those sold in the developed markets. "They have stolen from us in the past," he says with an air of almost defiant resignation, "so we must keep our top-of-the-line products to ourselves and not share them with the Chinese." Far from isolating the Chinese or belittling their ingenuity, Grundke sees them as able and skilled competitors that are quickly learning their craft. He compares them to Japanese automakers in the post-war period, but feels the learning curve will be much shorter. "We all may have laughed at the Japanese at first, but no one laughs at Toyota now," he says. "It will be the same with the Chinese."

Rather than bring designs for "40,000 hour European/U.S. pumps" to the Chinese market, where there is little or no need for the level of reliability or features they offer, Grundke envisions producing pumps that are closer to the accepted Chinese standard of a 4,000 hour lifecycle at a competitive price. "The design probably wouldn't be acceptable in the U.S. or Europe where the business dynamics and customer needs are very different," says Grundke, "and it eliminates the problem of giving them our premium technology to copy and sell at a much lower price."

While admitting that Bosch Rexroth currently doesn't have in its portfolio products that "meet the real needs of the Chinese market," the company is investing heavily to increase its R & D capabilities in China so that it can hit these benchmarks. Eventually those involved in building this capability will grow in proficiency and help the company meet the changing needs of manufacturers in developed countries as well. It is a long-term strategy.

"Customers are looking for less complexity and simpler technical solutions," says Grundke, "so they can have both lower costs and greater uptime." This means modular designs, less automation, and simpler equipment. "The customer has less money to spend, which drives both automation and machine cost down," says Grundke. Therefore, he says, best-in-class is determined by the customer and his needs, not by the depth of technology or features found in a production system. Having a Chinese R & D arm that is growing in sophistication and engineering capability will help units across the world produce high-quality, low-cost solutions.

Bosch Rexroth also is reconfiguring its motion control and drive systems to be plug-in components in an overall engineering interface to increase ease of use. This gives customers the ability to rewrite applications for their specific needs without touching the installed base, or core software. "It won't matter whether the technologies are electric, hydraulic, or pneumatic," claims Grundke, "and this will drive the customer to choose the best Bosch Rexroth technology for each axis without having to worry about set-up, monitoring, or control."--CAS

VISTEON'S CUSTOM CLUSTERS

"Consumers tell us they want more customization in the instrument cluster," says Brian Trudeau, product manager, instrument clusters, Visteon, Corp. [www.visteon.com; Van Buren Township, MI], while standing amid various glowing displays at the '05 Consumer Electronics Show. The technologies Visteon is deploying include:

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HI-DENSITY APPLIQUE -- The process foregoes traditional screen printing in favor of a laser that prints photographic quality images directly onto the polycarbonate substrate of the cluster applique. Trudeau says the laser can create more detailed images faster since only one pass through the printer is necessary, unlike some screen printing applications which can require multiple runs. Visteon is targeting OEMs who want to customize their IPs with logos, though palm trees and other appealing images are not out of the question.

VIRTUAL 3D APPLIQUE -- In another twist on the printing process, Visteon has developed a method that gives a 2-mm thick polycarbonate film the appearance of 20-mm in depth. The 3D illusion is created by printing interference patterns onto both the front and back sides of the film applique that diffract light, fooling the eye into seeing depth where it isn't. Trudeau says the technology is mature and ready for mass production.

COLORWASH LED LIGHTING -- The '05 Mustang may have been the first to market with adjustable color IP lighting, but Visteon is upping the ante with its Colorwash system, which uses an array of tri-color LEDs to provide up to 20 different color variations for the display, backlight, frontlight, and pointer illumination. This adds up to a lot of color combination possibilities, and that's just the point. Trudeau foresees Colorwash as a win-win system that can be cost-effectively mass produced for the DEM while being easily customizable for the end consumer.--KEW

LOOKING TOWARD THE HYDROGEN HORIZON

A trip to California to tour the Sandia National Lab in Livermore and HRL Laboratories in Malibu proved two things about the state and the state of the so-called hydrogen economy: (1) hybrid vehicles have a long way to go before they outnumber SUVs on the roadways, and (2) hydrogen storage breakthroughs are still on the horizon. The GM-Funded research at these two West Coast facilities is, however, getting closer to a workable solution to the problem of hydrogen storage for fuel cell-powered vehicles.

The general belief is that the real on-board storage solution lies in the use of containers filled with highly powdered metal hydrides to which hydrogen bonds during refueling. "Metal hydride tanks are smaller, operate at lower pressures, and can store much more hydrogen than high-pressure carbon fiber containers," says Chris Moen, manager, Engineering Science and Technology Dept., Sandia National Labs. Sandia's role is to work with GM to develop the engineering tools required to design automotive metal hydride storage systems, and solve the associated thermal management issues that arise. Because the hydrogen binds with the metal hydrides, heat--and lots of it--is required to release the hydrogen.

Experiments with sodium alanate--a prototypical hydride that behaves like materials with a higher storage capability that are under investigation at HRL--have allowed researchers to study the engineering properties of storage materials and container design, and compare these to simulations and models. "Some of the questions this work will answer are: how large the storage bed has to be for a given fuel cells, how quickly the tank can be filled, what heat removal rates are required to make this happen, and how start-up and peak demands can be met," says Moen.

"We are creating the design tools and gaining the expertise needed to design hydride beds for future storage tanks," says Jim Spearot, director, Chemical and Environmental Sciences, GM R & D, "and refining the solid-phase storage material requirements." This will lead to building and testing a full-size metal hydride storage tank using sodium alanate or a higher performance material in the near future. According to Spearot, five different storage options covering as many as 15 material systems are currently under detailed investigation with many more to be evaluated.

The hydrogen storage research at HRL Laboratories is focused on destabilizing light metal hydrides so that they more easily release the hydrogen. Its proof of concept lithium hydride silicon system, for example, uses silicon as the destabilization element (i.e., the silicon lessens the energy needed to liberate the hydrogen from its bonds with the lithium, but is not consumed in the reaction), "and lowers the temperature necessary to release the hydrogen by 400[degrees]C," says Leslie Momoda of HRL Labs. With more than 100 chemical reactions to model, Momoda is confident her team will find the compound that meets GM's requirements for a high-weight-percentage storage of hydrogen in a compact vessel, one that requires a low energy investment to store and remove the hydrogen. Additional research is necessary in ways to reduce refueling times to five minutes or less. This research also holds the potential to lower hydrogen release time.

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"Once you have the technology, how do you drive the transformation of the industry?" asks Larry Burns, v.p., R & D and Strategic Planning at GM. "Waiting decades won't work, because it's not a good use resources." Burns--through the research conducted at Sandia, HRL, GM, and elsewhere--hopes to manage the process such that the route to that transformation is no more than 10 years away; a goal that gets closer with each advance made by researchers. It is still too early, however, to define just when that horizon will be reached, even in California.--CAS

CREATING & UNDERSTANDING VALUE

Value Propositioning: Book One: Perception and Misperception in Decision Making

By Rick Dove

Iceni Books; $15.00

[available at Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com)

One of the more important books that you'll ever have the opportunity to put to good use in your professional (and even recreational) life is this slim (96-page) but dense text by thinker and consultant Rick Dove. Dove has a depth of understanding of organizational issues, particularly as they pertain to the implementation of technology, that is unparalleled among those who tend to hold forth on such matters. While Dove's previous book, Response Ability: The Language, Structure and Culture of the Agile Enterprise, dealt primarily with agility, an operational and organizational approach that he was instrumental in defining in his work with the Agile Forum at Leigh University in the early '90s, in Value Propositioning Dove thoughtfully examines how decisions are made in organizations. He synthesizes, condenses, and deploys the concepts of a number of people who have thought about and essayed the ways of learning and thinking and puts what are otherwise academic issues into the non ivy-covered world.

Say you want to have a new program approved. You must create a value proposition for why that would be important to someone else. That someone is what Dove calls the "Decision Maker." And he maintains. "Nothing happens until a problem is perceived by a Decision Maker." The problem that your program can resolve may exist, but unless the Decision Maker is convinced of the reality of that situation, until the Decision Maker perceives it, then the likelihood that there will be any change is nil. Moreover, once there is a perception of a problem, then the "satisficing" behavior defined by Herbert Simon comes into play: people aren't apt to go too far outside their current concepts, notions or ideas when presented with alternatives. Dove writes: "Satisficing behavior tends to limit search activity initially to a small number of candidates," and chances are those candidates are not thoroughly unfamiliar, for, as he puts it in an example, "when an existing product becomes inadequate for the market, a company will tend to look purposely for projects that promise a superior featured version rather than something completely different that would obsolete the product concept." In other words, "New and Improved" is just fine; "Something Completely Different" is anathema to most Decision Makers. But getting them to where they need to be isn't impossible--if you fully perceive their position.

An understanding of how Decision Makers think and how they can be best influenced greatly enhances your ability to get things done. And this is what Dove's book can help you do.--GSV

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FASTENING MEETS STAMPING. Hook this unit up to a stamping press with an appropriately tooled die, and the PEMSERTER In-Die Fastener Feeding System (including die tooling, fastener-feeding system, and die-sensing system) from PennEngineering Fastening Technologies (www.pennfast.com; Danboro, PA) will feed self-clinching nuts, studs, and standoffs during the stamping cycle. Can be readily configured to do multiple or single insertions.

UNCONVENTIONAL VARIABLE VALVE TIMING

Oil pressure actuation of variable valve timing units is pretty commonplace--despite the intricacy of the actuation units--and most are found on overhead cam engines. Now BorgWarner Morse TEC [www.bwauto.com] has begun volume production of what it calls "the next generation of cam phasing:" a "torsional assist" unit that utilizes camshaft torque to provide the actuation energy. The combination of a center-mounted spool valve and check valve allow the camshaft's torsional energy to assist actuation, rather than oppose it. This design eliminates the need for an upsized oil pump and its associated parasitic losses, which BorgWarner claims gives its unit a fuel economy and emissions advantage when compared to oil pressure-activated systems. Other benefits claimed include quicker actuation, a larger operating range, and greater phase stability. It can be applied to both overhead cam and overhead valve engines, and will debut on the 3.5- and 3.9-liter overhead valve V6s used in the 2006 Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo, and Pontiac's 66.

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BACK TO THE FUTURE (PAST)

Although a certain designer held forth about Retrofuturism, which was arguably an excuse to bring out some updated versions of vehicles of yore, if you're interested in what designers including Harley Earl, Norman Bel Geddes, John Tjaarda, and others did back when sheet metal was far more extreme and exotic than it tends to be nowadays, check out "Driving Through Futures Past," an exhibit that is being shown at the Peterson Automotive Museum (Los Angeles; www.petersen.org) between April 16 and September 11, 2005. There will be both illustrations and models of some of the incredible vehicles gone by. Among them are the 1936 Stout Scarab, designed by William Stout, resembling, yes, a beetle, and forerunning what are now considered minivans ... the 1933 Chrysler Trifon prototype, which preceded the Airflow in terms of aero style ... the 1956 Pontiac Bonneville Special Motorama show car (and now that the end of the Bonneville is nigh, this would be a good opportunity to take a look at one of the more dynamic versions). As museum curator Leslie Kendall observes, "The mid-20th century yielded some of the most forward-thinking automotive concepts created by talented designers who imagined a future in which technology would provide solutions to every design challenge." We are, of course, still waiting for that future.

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Title Annotation:NOTABLE
Publication:Automotive Design & Production
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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