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Millbrook GM European Proving Grounds

European Proving Grounds Millbrook is a 700 acre facility about 40 miles north of London with test tracks and testing facilities for aerospace, military, vehicle production, driver training (Aston Martin), and real-time online vehicle tracking. Here is link to the Millbrook website. Construction began in 1968 for a smaller version …

Auto Body Tems

Automotive Body Terms Every automotive professional has been challenged by their lack of knowledge regarding this particular terminology. Complications arise when the same parts and sub-assemblies are referred to with different names even if everyone speaks English. Furthermore, every automotive technical professional has been frustrated by their lack of knowledge …

Low Speed Vehicles – Neighborhood Electric Vehicles

  LSV Low Speed Vehicles and NEV Neighborhood Electric Vehicles represent a classification for a Federally approved street-legal vehicle that is speed limited to 25 mph.  This United States Department of Transportation [USDOT] legislation was put into effect by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard [FMVSS] 500 in 1998.  Simply put, NEV’s represent a …

Auto Battlefront 2011

Cruze, Focus & Elantra, The 2012 Models King Kong vs Godzilla vs Smog Monster — An epic battle is in the works for 2011 and it is definitely not some of my favorite from the classic 1950-1960’s sci-fi mega-characters. Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra are the three 2012 models that are on the …

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A Savage Factory – Inside An Auto Manufacturing Plant

February 6, 2012 Maintenance No Comments

I have been involved in the automotive industry for over 50 years and found A Savage Factory by Robert Dewar to be one of the most important books I have ever come across.

Mr. Dewar was recruited by Ford Motor Company to run the torque converter manufacturing  operation in one of their transmission plants until he was laid off in 1979.

Here is what he has to say about his book in information on his website ASavageFactory.Com:

‘A Savage Factory’ is my memoir of spending six years as a foreman and general foreman in Zone 3 of Ford Motor Company’s Sharonville Transmission Plant. It begins the day I started at Ford and ends the day I left Ford. It puts you in the middle of the never ending war between management and the UAW. It shows you, machine by machine, employee by employee, and component by component, the building of C-4 automatic transmissions that eventually resulted in the largest recall in automotive history. It takes you on a journey to try and change the way auto plants are managed, which put me under the care of a psychiatric hospital. It walks you through the thick jungle of sexual harassment female employees endured before the term “sexual harassment” was coined. It shows you the weak safety rules that destroyed men’s hearing and damaged their lungs. It puts you in my shoes as I attempted to break free of corporate tyranny by working enough overtime to save money to fund my own business. The book ends when American car buyers overwhelmingly choose better built, more reliable foreign imports, as the Big Three fights to avoid having to lay in the bed they spent 30 years making.

He goes on to say that he wanted to write this book to provide a look behind the “dirty gray walls … so they could see … the conditions in the parts plants … and the kind of management that was destroying an industry.”

If you like cars, and especially if you are technically inclined, you should read A Savage Factory. You are guaranteed to get a whole new look on the car businss a few decades back.

 

Tsunami Street Terror – Dash Cam View

December 10, 2011 Everything Else No Comments

This Is Real-World Street-Terror Reality

This dash cam video was just posted and shows the Japanese Tsunami from a view that captures the energy and terror in a way that has not been seen before.

You get “the man or woman on the street” view with all of the terror associated with being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The owner survived and was able to ultimately recover his car and the electronic dash cam footage survived.

Almost immediately (8 or 9 seconds) after the video starts you will see moving cars and the initial burst of water moving, left to right,  at the end of the building on the left. In a few more seconds you will see a tractor trailer swept along with cars at the same time the tsunami begins to flood in around the dash cam equipped car.

The fellow who gets out of the car in front of the camera car does decide to come back and shut his car door before running for his life.

At 1:09 you will see another fellow who is trapped in his minivan and by 1:27 he has made it to the top of his Honda minivan.

This video definitely shows how important it is to take immediate action when a terrible situation is unfolding around you.

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUdGfplrbKU&feature=player_embedded”>

Attending The 2006 General Motors Annual Meeting

December 5, 2011 Auto Manufacturer No Comments
GM Corporate Stockholder Meeting Photograph

GM Corporate Stockholder Meeting Photograph From 2011

GM Annual Corporate Meeting

General Motors Corporation has an Annual Meeting that is open to shareholders, once a year. From 1995 to 2010 the GM Annual Meeting was held in Wilmington, Delaware. Shown above is a GM Corporate photograph from the 2011 Annual Shareholder Meeting. In 2006 I attended the GM Annual Meeting in Wilmington, Delaware.

To Attend the GM Annual Meeting

To attend you have to be a stockholder and register to attend. Here is the sheet with all of the information you need to fill out and submit in advance. Shown in the graphic box is what you receive back. Note that cameras are not permitted.

GM Requirements To Attend Annual Meeting

GM Requirements To Attend Annual Meeting

The Audience

There were about 60 to 70 people in the audience. Maybe 1/3 were reporters. Some people were on the schedule to speak for a few minutes. And the rest in the audience, well we were there to experience something that we had not experienced before.

 GM Representaiton

The GM  Board of Directors was well represented and President Rick Wagnoner did most of the communication. It was all very GM Professional, which means that it was about as good as you expect it to be.

 The Reality

General Motors filed for bankruptcy three years after this annual meeting. Long before coming to the meeting some key ideas continued to run through my assessment of GM:

  • market share loss of approximately 1% per year
  • weak consumer image of product quality and integrity
  • challenge by the Japan 3 (J3) – Toyota, Nissan and Honda
  • challenge by the Koreans – Huyndai and Kia
  • Board Of Directors non-recognition of challenges on the horizon
  • too many brands and not enough great product

    Wards Automotive Production Data

    Wards Automotive Production Data

 

It was interesting to attend the Annual GM Shareholder meeting. Wilmington was probably far enough away from Detroit that only a small and dedicated percentage of shareholders would attend. No real hard questions surfaced associated with product, market share, and huge challenges on the horizon.

A Final Observation

After the meeting just about all of the GM Board got on the same elevator to exit the meeting. This seems symbolic for what was going to happen as I observed them entering the elevator.

GM Today

GM Today is not the same company it was. However, those five challenges identified above are still there today.

 

Old Car New Car Crash Test

November 28, 2011 Forensic Engineering No Comments

Crash Test: Head-On Collision

1962 Cadillac and 2002 Cadillac

 

This video has good technical information which is unfortunately not presented in a scientific manner related to the head-on impact between a 1962 Cadillac Sedan de Ville and 2002 Deville at 50 miles per hour.

From an analytic and forensic engineering analysis perspective there is a great deal of very relevant safety-related documentation in this type of crash test.

This crash test conclusively shows that modern cars are much safer than older classic cars regarding crumple and crush zones, in addition to seat attachment to body integrity issues which are visibly shown in the video.

The information is good but you will have to survive the presentation.

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-WYKYrq5FI&feature=player_embedded”>

Buick Verano NVH

November 14, 2011 Cars & Road Tests No Comments

Noise, Vibration and Harshness

Remove the outer skin and here is what's inside a typical car door

Remove the outer skin and here is what's inside a typical car door

Noise, Vibration and Harshness or NVH constitutes a major focal area for new cars today. There was a time in the 1970’s and 1980’s that NVH seemed to have very little significance. Today, NVH has major significance.

Today’s NVH Reality

Cars today cost a lot of money and owners keep them for a long time. Design can get you to fall in love with the car by saying that car is really great or I have to have that which is precisely what the manufacturer wants to get you to head to your local dealership showroom and buy that car.

One facet of vehicle ownership that has become much more important over the past decades is NVH because if the vehicle sounds like a tin can that certainly is not the sound of quality. If the door does not close with authority and a solid sounding thunk, again the vehicle does have the sound of quality.

Car Door Construction Technique

Car door cutaway with operational power window and power mirrors

Car door cutaway with operational power window and power mirrors

Let’s assess a basic car door. It has an inside and outside pieces of sheet metal and can let the window retract into the door cavity and an interior trim piece is attached. Now, imagine that you shut this door. This door will rattle and vibrate. Spray the inside of the door with an elastomeric and the sheet metal resonant frequency will go way down and the NVH Engineer can work to get that door to close with a resounding high-value solid sounding thunk.

Doors for the Verano have special welded inner panels and have three layers of fiberglass acoustic sound-absorber materials to minimize wet road sizzle-like sound intrusion into the passenger compartment.

Lexus and Buick

Lexus has gone to great lengths to create quiet vehicles. Buick is on a quest to battle the market directly against Lexus.

Buick officially indicates that they will begin sales for the Verano in the fourth quarter of 2011. It appears that all of the automotive press magazines have recently tested the Verano and compared it to the similar sibling Chevrolet Cruze. It seems very clear that the two vehicles are significantly different. Here are some items identified in a recent press release:

Buick Verano Press Release

Here is some information from a Buick press release. It is clear that Buick has gone after NVH issues in a major way. This is only a partial list associated with the 12 areas that the engineers considered in making this a very quiet vehicle:

  • A 5.4-mm-thick acoustic-laminated windshield and 4.85-mm-thick acoustic laminated side glass that minimizes wind noise
  • Acoustic insulation material on both sides of the front steel dash panel and under the hood that reduce engine noise
  • Five layers of acoustic insulation material in the headliner, including a premium fabric on the visible outer layer that muffles wind noise
  • Triple-sealed doors that keep out exterior noise
  • Three layers of acoustic insulation material in the doors that reduces the sound of wet-road sizzle
  • Dual-density carpet on the floor that block coarse road and tire noise
  • Underbody paneling that lowers wind and low road-surface noise while improving fuel economy
  • Liquid-applied sound deadener that supports a solid body structure
  • Specially tuned air intake and exhaust systems that enable pleasing engine sound quality without sacrificing engine performance
  • Isolated chassis components that reduce vibrations over irregular road surfaces for a solid road feel
  • A patented rear suspension that enables crisp road feel and superior ride and handling performance without sacrificing quietness
  • Hydraulic suspension bushings and an isolated engine cradle that reduces or eliminates vibrations.

Another Buick information sheet says that more than twice the amount of liquid-applied sound deadner (LASD) that is used on the Cruze is robotically applied in the body shop to reduce potential noise paths and improve body structural rigidity.

Verano’s headliner is composed of a five layer matrix of acoustic insulation. The A pillars are wrapped with the same fabric as the outer layer of the headliner.

A Real World Noise Test

Here is what happens you you put the entire sound deadening package to the test. You can hear the result for yourself.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVe3tNW3G04″>

Chrysler 300 — New Words — Light Pipe and Catwalk

October 30, 2011 Cars & Road Tests No Comments

Here are two new words that will be added to the Auto Body Terms tab in the website. These two words came from a Chrysler designer discussing the new Chrysler 300.

 

Catwalk

is the narrow strip that runs along the top of the quarter panel about one inch (2.54 cm) wide.

Light Pipe

is the highly illuminated narrow strip that runs down the tail lamp lens. On the 300C the light pipe is framed by bright chrome.

Random Photos From Automotive Tribune Site

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Richard Kubis Explains Solar Thermal Hybrid Automobile