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Wheeling and dealing in Detroit.

Wheeling And Dealing In Detroit

For the past few years, suppliers to the automotive industry have talked about producing subassembled doors, sunroofs, and seats, which would enable automakers to reduce the amount of space and work required for assembly. Rockwell International (Troy, Mich.) is one supplier that is ready to start delivering. At the 1989 Society of Automotive Engineers International Congress and Exposition in Detroit in February, the company announced a contract with an Italian automaker (but declined to specify which one). Rockwell will supply modular door assemblies as cassettes to be bolted into cars on the production line.

Although the SAE annual meeting has been held in Detroit since 1924, the show is not limited to car enthusiasts from the Motor City. Approximately 25 percent of the companies exhibiting at the 1989 show were from 10 countries other than the United States and Canada. Over the past five years, the event has more than doubled in size, easily selling out recently expanded Cobo Hall. The Detroit People Mover, an elevated public transit rail system, snaked visibly through the rafters above the exhibit floor.

With the current public concern for safety and the environment, the Detroit SAE history committee sponsored a session, "The History of the Automobile and the Environment." It took a frank look at society's continually changing attitudes toward the automobile--through the good and the bad, growing from an "unwanted child" in the early part of the century into "today's undaunted adult."

At a session on vehicle lighting trends, Oswald Haase, professor of physics at Fairleigh Dickinson University, proposed a study to determine the correlation between windshield wear and night driving accidents. The cumulative effect of sand, salt, pebbles, ice scrapers, windshield wipers, road film, and abrasive cleaners creates tiny craters and scratches that affect the way light passes through a windshield; some light passes through normally, while the rest is deflected or scattered. Haase and his colleagues in Sweden and West Germany have already obtained a correlation between windshield wear and driver reaction time by collecting data with a device that measures the ratio between normal and stray light through a windshield.

PHOTO : RIM polyurea. Mobay (Pittsburgh, Pa.) announced its new reaction injection molding (RIM) polyurea system for producing automotive fascias. RIM polyurea is said to have certain physical and processing advantages compared to injection-molded thermoplastics. A day-long session was devoted to the difference between the two materials.

PHOTO : From coupe to convertible. When Jaguar Cars converted their XJ-S coupe into a convertible, they worried about maintaining noise level and ride comfort standards without adding substantial weight to the car. Consulting engineers in England used the I-Deas finite element analysis program from SDRC (Cincinnati, Ohio) to analyze the car's body and drivetrain. Design changes made as a result of the analysis increased the torsional stiffness by more than 20 percent with only a 4 percent increase in weight.

PHOTO : Composite molding material. The Durez Division of Occidental Chemical Corp. (North Tonawanda, N.Y.) announced a new composite molding material, Durez 31988, for use in automotive fuel and air management systems like this throttle body for a 2.3-liter Ford engine. The material is resistant to chemicals commonly found in motor vehicles, including methanol fuels, and it offers better vibrational stability than steel and aluminum.

PHOTO : Combination luxury-sports car/off-road vehicle. Looking at this unusual car, attendees might have thought that John Delorean was back in the business. (He's not.) Vehma International (Richmond Hill, Ontario) hopes to produce its Torrero on a limited basis in the 1992-93 model year.
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Title Annotation:Society of Automotive Engineers International Conference and Exposition
Author:Evans, Bill
Publication:Mechanical Engineering-CIME
Date:May 1, 1989
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