Jan. 1, 2020
ASA Announces 2007-2008 Mechanical Division Operations Committee ... UTI to Continue NASCAR Technical Institute Through 2017 ... Toyota: Hybrids to Account for 100 Percent of Sales by 2020 ... and other headlines from around the industry.
NEWS BRIEFS FOR THE WEEK OF MAY 31, 2007ASA Announces 2007-2008 Mechanical Division Operations Committee BEDFORD, TX (May 18, 2007) - The Automotive Service Association (ASA) has announced its 2007-08 Mechanical Division Operations Committee. The committee represents repair facilities of varying sizes from across the United States, and works on behalf of all ASA mechanical members to advance and promote the automotive service and repair industry. Several committee projects are handled through its various subcommittees, which currently include education and training, extended service plans, information availability, marketing, parts quality and shop licensing. Earl Dohner, AAM, E&E's Garage, Brookville, OH, continues his two-year term as Mechanical Division director. Dohner serves on ASA's board of directors and chairs the Mechanical Division Operations Committee. Other committee members include:  * Howard Pitkow, Wagenwerx Inc., Wyndmoor, PA, who is serving as assistant division director.  * Robert Ayers, AAM, Ayers Automotive Repair, Santa Barbara, CA.  * Rick Baker, AAM, Rick Baker's Auto Service Inc., Pleasant Hill, OH. * Mike Brewster, AAM, Gil's Garage Inc., Burnt Hills, NY. * Mike Koebke, Gus Mann Automotive, San Antonio. * Bill Moss, AAM, Advantage Certified Auto Group, Manassas, VA. * Dave Walter, Kehoe Automotive Center Inc., Carol Stream, IL. * Bob Wills, Wills Auto Service, Battle Creek, MI. * Terry Wynter, Terry Wynter Auto Service Center, Fort Myers, FL. * Betty Jo Young, AAM, Young's Automotive Center, Houston.(Source: ASA)GM Builds 
One-Millionth Duramax Diesel
DAYTON, OH (May 17, 2007) - General Motors Corp. has built its one-millionth Duramax V8 turbo-diesel engine at the DMAX plant in Moraine, OH. DMAX Ltd., a joint venture between GM and Isuzu Motors Limited, was established as a diesel engine company in 1998.  GM first introduced the Duramax diesel in the United States in the 2001 model-year. The Duramax 6.6L V8 is a four-valve, high-pressure, common-rail, direct injection diesel equipped with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) to meet the 2007 emissions requirements.  Available in GM's Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy-duty trucks, the engine delivers 365 horsepower (hp) (272 kW) and 660 ft.-lb. of torque (895 Nm). It is also offered with increased power and torque for the Chevy Kodiak and GMC TopKick medium-duty applications. Versions are available with 300 hp and 520 ft.-lb. of torque, as well as a new 330-hp option with 620 ft.-lb. of torque. The Duramax is also available in GM's full-size vans, Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana.(Source: GM)TN Gains Automotive Research Alliance
National Transportation Research Center, Knoxville 
(Photo: East Tennessee Economic Development Agency)
KNOXVILLE, TN (May 20, 2007) - A new initiative supporting the auto industry - the Automotive Research Alliance (ARA) - has just been formed to provide a research resources to automakers and suppliers. The ARA was formed by the Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL), Tennessee Valley Authority, National Transportation Research Center Inc. (NTRCI), Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley and six southeastern universities.  Research resources available to automotive manufacturers and suppliers include technology and manufacturing solutions, as well as academic and training programs.  (Source: East Tennessee Economic Development Agency) New LI Batteries Raise the Bar for Automotive Applications
32-Series Automotive Class Lithium Ion Cell
(Photo: A123Systems)

LONG BEACH, CA (May 25, 2007) - A123Systems recently introduced its new 32-series Automotive Class Lithium-Ion (LI) batteries, specifically designed for hybrid electric (HEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) use, with lower overall systems cost.

The 32-series line-up is currently comprised of two solutions for automakers, which allow original equipment manufacturers expanded flexibility in system design, removing many traditional technology constraints. Each of the cells is made with custom nanophosphate electrode designs, optimized to offer power by volume and cost-per-watt. The new design makes it less likely the batteries will overheat and catch on fire. A123Systems says they have a projected lifetime of more than 10 years/150,000 miles. 

* Designed to meet the rigorous requirements of HEV applications, the ultra-high power AHR32113M1Ultra cell is already being integrated into the company's current programs with major U.S. and European auto manufacturers. 

Lithium-Ion Batteries 101: A123Systems is currently working with a number of original equipment manufacturers on lithium-ion battery systems for hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle applications. The effective development of automotive class batteries requires optimizing a number of multiple layers of complexity in order to deliver a cost-effective solution.
(Photo: A123Systems) * The AHR32157M1HD cell is designed for use in PHEVs, such as the Saturn Vue PHEV under development, which require a more energy-dense solution then HEVs. This cell is designed to deliver improved calendar and cycle life at high depth-of-discharge (DOD) for sustained operation.  "By making it possible for manufacturers to design HEVs and PHEVs with attractive performance, reliability and safety as well as an overall lower systems cost, we are able to play a significant role in speeding the market's acceptance of highly fuel efficient vehicles," says David Vieau, A123Systems president and CEO. (Source: A123Systems) Clean Diesel Ready to Meet 
President's Goals
WASHINGTON (May 15, 2007) - Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, says that clean diesel is front and present in helping America meet President Bush's "20 in 10" goals as part of the administration's energy plan. "America's diesel industry is ready to respond and add to the estimated 4.8 million diesel cars, pickups and SUVs already on the road today," Schaeffer says. "Numerous manufacturers, including Dodge, General Motors, Ford, BMW Group, Mercedes, Jeep, Audi, Volkswagen, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai and Mitsubishi, are planning to introduce new clean diesel vehicles in the next two to three years, as technological innovation promising slashed emissions meets consumer demand for fuel economy and high performance." He urged Congress to consider extending financial incentives that encourage the purchase of new clean technologies, including new clean diesel cars, pickups and SUVs. "Diesel cars, trucks and SUVs deliver superior fuel economy - typically 20 percent to 40 percent better than a comparable gasoline vehicle - without requiring drivers to sacrifice the power and performance Americans demand," he adds.  In addition, diesel fuel is on average 26 cents cheaper per gallon than regular gasoline - a national average of $2.79 for diesel compared to $3.05 for gasoline, according to the Energy Information Administration. "More Americans are discovering clean diesel as an alternative fuel option," Schaeffer points out. "Annual registration of diesel passenger vehicles has grown by 80 percent - from just over 300,000 in 2000 to nearly 550,000 in 2005. And most analysts expect this trend to continue. Researchers at J.D. Power and Associates predict that diesel sales will triple in the next 10 years, growing to more than 10 percent of U.S. vehicles sales by 2015, up from 3.6 percent in 2005." (Source: Diesel Technology Forum) Road Rage Survey Reveals 
Best, Worst Cities 
NORWALK, CT (May 15, 2007) - The second annual "In The Driver's Seat Road Rage Survey," commissioned by AutoVantage, has found that the least courteous city in the country is Miami, followed by New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington, DC.  It's the second consecutive year that Miami claimed the top spot. Conversely, the city with the most courteous drivers is Portland, OR, followed closely by Pittsburgh, Seattle/Tacoma, St. Louis and Dallas/Ft. Worth. The survey was conducted to determine the driving habits and attitudes of commuters across the United States and to learn more about consumer views on the topic of road rage.  When asked the major causes of road rage in the survey, the most frequent theme was people being in a hurry, running late, being impatient and/or speeding. Behaviors by other drivers that cause stress for commuters, and which can lead to road rage, include: * Driving too fast (66 percent observe this happening every day). * Cutting over without notice (45 percent see this every day). * Talking on their cell phones (98 percent observe this at least once a week). * Doing other tasks while driving (63 percent observe this at least once a week). * Running red lights (63 percent observe this at least once a week). * Slamming on the brakes (63 percent see this happening at least once a week). "This new study identifies emerging trends," says Mike Wain, vice president of AutoVantage. "This groundbreaking research is an important tool to help educate and influence safer driving habits throughout the United States."  Individuals wishing to do a self-assessment can take an online survey at (Source: Affinion Group) UTI to Continue NASCAR Technical Institute Through 2017 PHOENIX (May 18, 2007) - Universal Technical Institute Inc.(UTI) announced that it renewed its licensing agreement with the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing Inc. (NASCAR), and will continue the branded operation of UTI's NASCAR Technical Institute through 2017. The agreement also allows UTI to offer NASCAR-branded scholarships to certain qualified students attending the NASCAR Technical Institute. Located in Mooresville, NC, and in operation since 2002, the NASCAR Technical Institute provides training in automotive technology and offers specific courses in NASCAR technologies in a racing-focused environment.  "Since its inception, the NASCAR Technical Institute has provided a pool of entry-level technicians for NASCAR teams, as well as fulfilled its primary purpose of providing quality technicians to the automotive industry," says UTI CEO Kim McWaters. "Where better can a prospective student desiring to become a first-class technician learn automotive technology than at an institution directly associated with NASCAR?"  In addition to automotive and NASCAR technologies, the institute also offers the following elective programs: Ford FACT, Nissan NATT and NASCAR Pit Crew.  Graduates of the NASCAR Technical Institute may also qualify to participate in one of UTI's post-graduate programs, such as Audi Academy, BMW STEP, MBUSA Elite, Porsche PTAP, Volkswagen VATRP and Volvo SAFE. (Source: UTI) Toyota: Hybrids to Account for 100 Percent of Sales by 2020 TOYOTA CITY, JAPAN (May 18, 2007) - Toyota's Masatami Takimoto, executive vice president in charge of Powertrain Development, said in an interview with the International Herald Tribune that by 2010, the automaker expects to have cut costs for hybrid cars enough to be able to make as much money on them as it does on conventional gasoline cars.  "By then, we expect margins to be equal to gasoline cars," Takimoto said, crediting cost-cutting efforts on the system's motor, battery and inverter for improving the cost structure. He reiterated Toyota's sales goal of selling 1 million hybrids annually by 2010. If the automaker succeeds, it plans to remove the main hurdle to cost-competitiveness for the hybrid: the expense of the powertrain. In addition, Takimoto said he expected hybrids to become the standard drivetrain and account for "100 percent" of Toyota's vehicles by 2020. This contrasts with European automakers like Daimler Group and Volkswagen, who are investing heavily in clean diesel engine technology. (Sources: International Herald Tribune, North American Suppliers Continue to Lag Behind European, Asian Peers NASHVILLE, TN (May 17, 2007) - Twenty two percent of some of the largest global automotive suppliers are in jeopardy of significant financial distress within the next 12 months, according to a study by BBK, an international business advisory firm.  BBK analyzed the financials of 80 of the top 150 global automotive suppliers, with a view to comparing distress levels, leverage and other concerns. Of the firms evaluated, 42 are headquartered in North America, 21 in Europe and 17 in Asia. BBK Ratings by RegionYearNorth AmericaEuropeAsia 2002 B+AA2003BAA2004BA-A2005B-A-A-2006B-B+A

The research firm used its proprietary financial model to determine the overall financial strength of a company. BBK assigns a grade from "A" to "F" depending on the potential for distress over the next 12 months. A company is considered distressed if it earns a "C", "D" or "F" rating.

While the average rating for North American suppliers in 2006 was a B-, 33 percent of North American suppliers were at various levels of financial distress - including 11 companies that received an "F" rating. By comparison, European suppliers ranked at a B+ average, with just 14 percent experiencing distress. Asian suppliers averaged an A rating, with no companies in distress.

"It is absolutely critical for OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers to take a comprehensive, proactive approach to carefully monitor both the operational and financial health of their suppliers," says BBK CEO William Diehl. "If these companies are not proactively monitoring the health of their suppliers, they risk suffering a significant and costly disruption to their supply chain. The suppliers who find the right balance between outsourcing to lower-cost countries and looking for cost-effective ways to improve efficiency will be well poised for a healthy and sustainable future."

(Source: BBK)

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