GM to Produce 20 New Electric Cars by 2023

GM to Produce 20 New Electric Cars by 2023

Oct 4, 2017

By Charles Murray, DesignNews Future GM battery-electric vehicles will include coupes, sedans, crossovers, SUVs and possibly even pickup trucks. General Motors raised the stakes in the auto industry’s ongoing competition to build more affordable, long-range electric cars this week, announcing it would roll out two more all-new EVs in the next 18 months, and 20 more by 2023. The giant automaker said that the first two vehicles will be “based off learnings from the Chevrolet Bolt EV.” The others will include coupes, sedans, crossovers, and SUVs. GM told Design News that it would also not rule out the possibility of a pickup truck. To underscore its effort, GM released a photo including eight different vehicles silhouetted underneath drapes, clearly exhibiting different sizes and shapes. The silhouetted figures represent the array of pure, battery-powered cars that the company will release in the next five-and-a-half years, all designed from the ground, up. “The Bolt EV was the first, affordable, long-range all-electric vehicle,” said GM spokesman Kevin Kelly. “We’ve cracked the code. We know how to do it.” GM’s statement comes at a time when much of the entrenched auto industry seems as if it is racing to make bigger and bigger announcements about electric cars. Today, Ford Motor Co. said it has formed an internal unit, called Team Edison, whose charter it is to accelerate development of electric vehicles, while forging partnerships with other auto manufacturers and suppliers. Similarly, Toyota Motor Corp. said last Thursday that it is teaming with Mazda Motor Corp. and with supplier Denso Corp. to “jointly develop basic structural technologies for electric vehicles.” The announcements provide a broad signal that traditional automakers have accepted electrification, but it’s still clear that most of them are unsure how fast it will take place. Industry analysts, such as Navigant Research , have predicted that approximately 4% of vehicles sold worldwide in 2025 will be battery-electric. Other analysts, however, have forecast figures in excess of 20%. “If you try to guess anything out to about 2030, your crystal ball will be pretty fuzzy,” Kelly told us. Analysts today acknowledged that no one’s sure whether consumers, even the younger ones, will embrace pure electric cars. “Engineers are starting to see a...

Self-Driving Cars’ Prospects Rise With Vote by House

Self-Driving Cars’ Prospects Rise With Vote by House

Sep 13, 2017

By Cecilia Kang, The New York Times WASHINGTON — Lawmakers in the House took a major step on Wednesday toward advancing the development of driverless cars, approving legislation that would put the vehicles onto public roads more quickly and curb states from slowing their spread. Under the bill, which was approved by a unanimous voice vote, carmakers can add hundreds of thousands of self-driving cars to America’s road in the next few years. States, which now have a patchwork of rules regulating the vehicles, would have to follow the new federal law. The House vote sets the stage for a battle between safety advocates and companies that make the largely unproven technology. Automakers say the vehicles could greatly reduce roadway fatalities and help their businesses, but many safety advocates say they are not ready for wide deployment. The next steps will come in the Senate, which is expected to consider a similar bill soon. Lawmakers who support the legislation said the country’s confusing regulatory environment was hampering the driverless-car industry’s prospects. “Self-driving cars have the potential to save lives especially when the majority of fatalities are caused by human error,” said Representative Debbie Dingell, Democrat of Michigan. “The question is whether we are in the driver’s seat and not to cede it to China or India.” Auto and technology giants, including Ford Motor, General Motors and Waymo, Alphabet’s driverless division, have pushed hard for the new law. They have also pressed regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to clarify safety guidelines covering self-driving technology. Elaine L. Chao, the transportation secretary, is expected to announce revised guidelines for the vehicles next week in Michigan. In recent years, dozens of states have passed laws related to self-driving safety, some of which carmakers view as too heavy-handed. The companies have, for example, fought proposals in California, Michigan and New York that would require driverless cars to be electric-powered and to contain steering wheels and brake pedals. “The reason why Congress is doing this is that there was a growing concern of a vacuum created because N.H.T.S.A. hadn’t acted and the states were acting in N.H.T.S.A.’s place,” said Marc Scribner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning research group in...

Why Tesla Could Become the Next Apple

Why Tesla Could Become the Next Apple

May 23, 2017

By Mohanbir Sawhney, Fortune Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s bold prediction that his $53 billion company could one day be as valuable as Apple the most valuable company in the world with an $800 billion market cap, is based on his logic that Tesla will disrupt manufacturing with automation by going after the “machine that makes the machine.” While it may seem just pie in the sky, there is a case for Tesla to become the next Apple. Tesla is betting that it can create a fully automated manufacturing process that will be as revolutionary as Henry Ford’s continuous assembly line. Ford revolutionized manufacturing in 1913 by creating a process that broke the assembly of the Ford Model T into 84 distinct steps as the car moved down the line on a conveyer belt. The process revolutionized production and dropped the assembly time for a single vehicle from 12 hours to 90 minutes. Ford was able to reduce the cost of the Model T from $850 to $300 and produce a car every 24 seconds. Ford ended up selling 15 million Model T cars by 1927, and the continuous assembly line remains the foundation of automobile manufacturing to this day. Although automation with robots has dramatically improved the efficiency of automotive manufacturing, the final assembly is still a manual process.   Tesla aims to combine its capabilities in advanced software and artificial intelligence (AI) with advanced automated manufacturing capabilities it acquired in November 2016 by buying Grohmann Automation to create a factory that will produce very high volumes at much lower costs than today’s auto factories. A fascinating insight from Tesla’s blog: The “factory becomes more of a product than the product itself.” Tesla believes that it can usher in the next manufacturing revolution by dramatically increasing production volumes and reducing labor costs in manufacturing. So why won’t other auto manufacturers follow suit and overtake Tesla? First, their products, as well as their factories, are bogged down by legacy. Tesla’s electric cars are significantly easier to manufacture than internal combustion (IC) vehicles. Tesla’s Model S has fewer than 20 moving parts, compared with almost 1,500 moving parts in an IC-engine car. This means that there are...

Carbon Fiber, Steel, Put New Twist on Automotive…

Carbon Fiber, Steel, Put New Twist on Automotive…

May 12, 2017

“Carbon Fiber, Steel, Put New Twist on Automotive Lightweighting” By Charles Murray, Design News Hybrid approach enables engineers to cut weight in high-load, high-volume auto applications. In a new twist on automotive lightweighting, engineers from Eaton Corp. are combining steel with carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastics to cut weight in high-load, high-volume powertrain applications, such as differential housings and transmission gear sets.   Eaton engineers say the new approach not only allows them to handle the high torque loads of those components, it enables them to do it in a way that’s economically palatable for automakers. “Typically, when we talk about metal replacement in vehicles, we’re looking at lower-load, thermoplastic parts, like under-hood parts that use nylon,” noted Kelly Williams, research and technology manager for polymers and nanocomposites at Eaton Corporate Research . “But higher-load, harsher-environment applications like this haven’t been done. This is a new approach, as far as we know.” Williams said that the automotive supplier is working with at least two automakers on replacement of cast iron differential housings with hybrid parts made from steel and carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). The hybrid housing, which is subjected to torques as high as 4,000 lb-ft, uses a steel frame to carry the higher loads and employs the CFRP to carry medium-level loads. Even with its equivalent load-carrying capacity, it weighs about 40% less than the cast iron version, Williams said. “In terms of strength and stiffness, this approach can be comparable to cast iron,” Williams told Design News. “Carbon fiber alone is not as stiff as steel — its modulus is not as high as steel — so that’s why we use both materials.” Carbon fiber composites have a specific modulus of 14 GPa cc/g, versus 25 GPa cc/g for steel, she added. To be sure, CFRP has been used previously in vehicles and in aerospace applications, but generally not for high-load, high-volume parts, largely due to manufacturing cost constraints. Eaton was able to reduce costs, however, by combining the steel frame with the overmolded composite, enabling the creation of a quick, net-shape parts that need little secondary finishing. As a result, cycle times are shorter, making it less costly and more suitable for...

Are Autonomous Cars Disrupting the Supply Chain?

Are Autonomous Cars Disrupting the Supply Chain?

Apr 25, 2017

By Charles, Murray, DesignNews In the development of self-driving vehicles, Tier Two suppliers say they’re communicating directly with automakers in ways they hadn’t previously. During a two-week period in early February of this year, Chris Jacobs of Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) criss-crossed the country, visiting the offices of virtually every major automaker to discuss such technologies as radar, Lidar, and microelectromechanical sensors. A decade ago, Jacobs wouldn’t have gotten his foot in the door with the automakers to discuss such subjects. But thanks to the emerging importance of self-driving cars, Jacobs says he and his colleagues have suddenly become very important. “Just in the last year, it’s been insane,” Jacobs, general manager of ADI’s advanced driver assistance systems and automotive safety, recently told Design News. “Now, the OEMs [automakers] want to develop non-disclosure agreements with us. And they want us to develop prototypes for them without a Tier One [supplier], so they can try them out on their test tracks. This would have never happened 10 years ago.” Meet more than 9,100 qualified buyers and decision makers searching for new products, the latest technologies, and state-of-the-art processes across the full spectrum of advanced design and manufacturing at our East Coast Advanced Design & Manufacturing Expo. June 13-15, 2017 in NY. Indeed, the time-honored order of the automotive supply chain seems to be changing, and the autonomous car may be behind it. In the past, Tier Two vendors, such as Analog Devices, didn’t communicate with automakers. Rather, they reported almost exclusively to the Tier Ones, such as Delphi Automotive PLC, Robert Bosch GmbH, Visteon Corp. and Continental AG. The Tier Ones, in turn, worked with the automakers to build bigger products, integrating sensors, software, semiconductor chips, and other parts from the Tier Twos. Under such arrangements, Tier Twos were generally discouraged from contacting the OEMs (the automakers) directly. “We would want to talk to them, and they would say, ‘Talk to the Tier One,’” Jacobs said. Now, that’s changing. Today, Tier Two electronics suppliers say they’re connected directly to the automakers on a separate dotted line – at least when it comes to autonomous cars. They’re neither more nor less important than the Tier One....