Has Tesla Found a Better Way to Test and Validate Vehicles?

Has Tesla Found a Better Way to Test and Validate Vehicles?

Mar 24, 2017

By Charles Murray, DesignNews Electric carmaker might shorten the beta test phase of its forthcoming Tesla Model 3 vehicle. A recent statement by Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk has auto insiders wondering if the electric car maker has found a better way to test and validate vehicles, or if it is embarking on a risky new course. In the statement made on an exclusive investor-only call last week, Musk reportedly suggested that the beta test phase of the company’s moderately-priced Model 3 EV is being shortened, and that its “early release candidates” are already being built on production tooling. According to various electric car websites, such as Elektrek, Tesla engineers used sophisticated design-for-manufacturability analytics, enabling them to limit the number of pre-production iterations of the vehicle. The result is that the quality of the so-called “release candidates” is higher than it was for the company’s earlier products, the Model S and Model X, reports said. “The most plausible interpretation of this statement about release candidates is that (Musk) has opted to short-cut development testing of prototype vehicles,” noted Sam Abuelsamid, senior reach analyst for Navigant Research , in an e-mail to Design News. “In all likelihood, he is assuming that they can get by with more simulation testing and less testing of physical prototypes.” If that is indeed Musk’s plan, it would be a departure from the way automobiles have traditionally been tested, validated and manufactured. In common practice, beta testing involves months and tens of thousands of testing miles on vehicles built on pre-production tooling. In the case of the Model 3 (photo, left), that phase may have been short-circuited, but it’s difficult to know definitively because Musk often uses different terms than other automakers when describing the process. Tesla did not respond to an e-mail from Design News asking for clarification. Automotive experts said the industry will watch carefully to see if the Silicon Valley carmaker’s software-centric approach is successful, but many were skeptical. “Everybody is trying to accelerate the process of launch,” noted David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research . “But if you say you’re going to skip part of the normal process in validating your tooling,...

Auto Parts Joint Venture To Add 200 Jobs In Indiana

Auto Parts Joint Venture To Add 200 Jobs In Indiana

Mar 20, 2017

By Andy Szal, Digital Reporter, Manufacturing.net Japanese manufacturer NTN Corp. on Friday announced that its Indiana-based joint venture plans to build a second auto parts factory and add about 200 jobs in coming years. NTK Precision Axle Corp. — a venture between NTN, Takao Kogyo and Neturen — makes driveshaft components in Anderson, Ind.; its second plant will make turning and heat treatment processes and increase the business’ overall production capacity. NTN officials said that the company hopes to bolster production in areas with strong auto parts demand. The new factory will also consolidate production of parts currently sourced from external partners operating overseas. Construction on the second plant is scheduled to begin next month. Mass production will start one year later, and the 200-employee workforce is expected to be in place for the 2021 fiscal...

Technologies Point to New Possibilities for Automotive…

Technologies Point to New Possibilities for Automotive…

Mar 3, 2017

“Technologies Point to New Possibilities for Automotive Manufacturing” By Design-2-Part Magazine Divergent 3D’s environmentally efficient manufacturing platform and Toyota’s wireless EV charging system receive special recognition at R&D 100 Awards  OXON HILL, Md.—A manufacturing platform that reduces the amount of capital, materials, and energy needed to build vehicles, and a wireless electric vehicle charging system that enables batteries to be charged while driving were among the technologies awarded special recognition at the 2016 R&D 100 Awards, announced in November by R&D magazine. In selecting what are judged to be the “100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year,” the international awards competition recognizes excellence across a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, optics, materials science, and biotechnology.     Divergent 3D, a Los Angeles-based startup with a radical new approach to automotive manufacturing, took top honors in the Special Recognition: Green Tech category, receiving the Gold Award for its environmentally efficient Divergent Manufacturing Platform™. Meanwhile, Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing North America, headquartered in Erlanger, Kentucky, received the Bronze Award in the Special Recognition: Green Tech category for the Wireless Power Transfer Based Electric and Plug-in Vehicle Charging System. Toyota co-developed the technology with a team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and support from Cisco Systems and the International Transportation Innovation Center. Divergent 3D is attempting to greatly reduce the materials and energy used to manufacture vehicles, along with the associated costs and pollution, through a software-hardware platform known as the Divergent Manufacturing Platform. The platform is said to enable people to design and build a strong, very light chassis for vehicles ranging from a two-seat sports car to a pickup truck.  Its key building blocks are 3D-printed metal Node™ connectors, aluminum-alloy joints that connect pieces of aerospace-grade carbon fiber tubing to form the chassis. The Nodes reduce the amount of time, material, and actual 3D printing required to build the chassis, making it much lighter and far less costly and energy-intensive than those used on traditional vehicles. And instead of making expensive changes to hard tooling, manufacturers can use the software to rapidly iterate the hardware design. Divergent 3D is hoping that small entrepreneurial teams will use its manufacturing platform...

Toyota Announces $600M Expansion, Hiring 400 New Jobs…

Toyota Announces $600M Expansion, Hiring 400 New Jobs…

Jan 25, 2017

“Toyota Announces $600M Expansion, Hiring 400 New Jobs In Indiana” By Andy Szal, Manufacturing.net Toyota on Tuesday announced plans to invest $600 million and add 400 new jobs to its auto plant in Princeton, Ind. The project, which includes retooling as well as new equipment and advanced technology, is scheduled to begin in late 2019. It will enable the southwestern Indiana facility to manufacture an additional 40,000 additional Highlander SUVs per year. The Princeton facility churned out a record 400,000 Highlanders last year, company officials said. “The Highlander has been a great vehicle for our plant and we are excited to deliver even more of them to our loyal customers,” Toyota Indiana president Millie Marshall said in a statement. Numerous automakers made investments in U.S. plants in recent months in an effort to bolster production of trucks and SUVs, which have higher profit margins and are selling well amid low gas prices and improved fuel efficiency. Some vehicle makers are also shifting production of lower-margin small cars into Mexico, which drew repeated criticism from President Donald Trump. The Princeton project is part of $10 billion in planned investments in Toyota’s U.S. plants over the next five years....

GM to Invest $1 Billion in U.S. Manufacturing Operations

GM to Invest $1 Billion in U.S. Manufacturing Operations

Jan 17, 2017

By David Welch and Sohee Kim, Bloomberg Markets General Motors Co. announced a $1 billion U.S. investment plan involving new models and plant updates long in the works, becoming the latest automaker to answer to pressure from Donald Trump to create jobs. The nation’s top automaker will add or retain about 7,000 salaried and hourly workers, including almost 2,000 in domestic factories, spokesman Pat Morrissey said. Made days after Trump urged GM to follow Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV in detailing U.S. spending plans, the announcement includes product updates, manufacturing changes and a lending expansion all decided before the president-elect’s public appeals to invest. Earlier Tuesday, Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. said they’ll increase U.S. investment over the next five years and consider building a new plant in the country. Trump praised Ford and Fiat Chrysler last week for plans to spend on U.S. factories after threatening for months to slap Mexico-built vehicles with a 35 percent import tax. The president-elect is taking credit mostly for expenditures companies would’ve made anyway, according to Maryann Keller, an independent auto industry consultant. “This is the normal course of business,” Keller, who’s based in Stamford, Connecticut, said of GM. “All they’re doing is announcing investments that they would have made anyway.” Carmakers are eager to cooperate with the incoming administration as they prepare to ask for favors including weaker fuel economy rules and lower corporate taxes. And the auto industry isn’t alone: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will create about 10,000 retail jobs, the country’s largest private employer said Tuesday. “Thank you to General Motors and Walmart for starting the big jobs push back into the U.S.!” Trump wrote on Twitter. ‘Big Stuff’ Less than two minutes into his first formal press conference since the election on Wednesday, Trump highlighted Ford’s decision to cancel a $1.6 billion factory in Mexico and expand an existing plant in Michigan. Fiat Chrysler committed $1 billion toward making three new Jeeps in the U.S. and enabling a Michigan facility to manufacture a Ram pickup now produced in Mexico. He told reporters he hoped GM would follow. “With all of the jobs I am bringing back into the U.S. (even before taking office), with all of the new auto plants coming back into...