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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.

 

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.

Millbrook GM European Proving Grounds

October 18, 2011 Auto Manufacturer No Comments

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 of the Milford Michigan proving grounds at Millbrook on the site of a former airfield. The facility replicated many of the most successful features of the Milford site and benefited from the accumulated wisdom of more than 50 years operation at the Milford proving grounds.

An Invitation To Visit

Automobile manufacturer vehicle test facilities are spectacular places to visit. About six months ago I had an invitation to visit the General Motors Proving Grounds and Track at Millbrook England.

Every Original Equipment Manufacturer or OEM has very strict procedures for visitors. OEM’s use the test facilities to test cars and trucks before they go into production and OEM’s do not want photographs or other sensitive or proprietary information leaving the property.

You sign in and the security guard puts a special lift-off tape over cell phone cameras. Regular cameras can be left at security to be retrieved on exit. If this procedure sounds extreme, then just remember that it is their facility and you are the person with the invitation to walk through a very exclusive door.

My group was there associated with an advanced vehicle safety technology. We spent time in a number of areas including the crash test facility and the different dynamic test tracks. Millbrook has many driving surfaces, specific testing areas, and a highly professional staff handling many engineering projects for a number of vehicle manufacturers and suppliers to the automotive industry.

The 2 Mile Long High Speed, Constant Speed Circuit Is Unique

One unique test track at Millbrook is the two (2) mile long High / Constant Speed Circuit. The banked oval permits the vehicle to go through the full two mile loop at speeds in excess of 150 mph. One remarkable feature are the “Neutral Steer Speed” lanes around the two mile track where, essentially, the car has neutral forces at 40, 50, 60, 75, and 100 mph. Millbrook Test Track, website brochure

Neutral steer speed means that, if the car is handling properly, you can take your hands off the steering wheel and the car will steer itself around the circuit at speeds up to 100 mph. This is a very unique test feature sort of like the banked race track all the way around for two miles.

Neutral steer speed also is very significant for vehicle forces on the engine and chassis of the car. At speed the track angle forces are balanced with the centrifugal forces on the vehicle so that fluids are effectively flat or level in the engine and the differential assembly. Another way to think about the fluids is that as the car tips on the slope gravity would pull the fluids down. Moving through the two mile oval at speed causes the fluids to be thrown outwards so on the high banked track the car can run 100 mph and all of the fluids are effectively flat in the car. This is vitally important for proper long distance testing and there are five constant speed lanes at 40, 50, 60, 75, and 100 mph.

Some of the other handling circuits include steep hill upgrades and downgrades, city handling circuit, steering pad, a precisely level one mile straightaway, driveway ramps, truck slopes, textured pavements, Belgian Blocks, traction control pavement challenge, water troughs, an extreme maneuver area, and off-highway test area.

Millbrook operates 365 days per year and 24 hours per day. The Test Track booklet identifies 49 different testing on-highway and off-highway testing surfaces.

James Bond & Driver Training

With high security and unique features it becomes clear that Millbrook would be a great facility for some movie footage. James Bond has been here.

Aston Martin has a driver traing program that is conducted at the facility. If you get a new car be sure and ask for the invitation to the Millbrook driver training facility.

 

Great Facility and Great Staff

Millbrook is one of Europe’s leading locations for the development and demonstration of every type of land vehicle, from motorcycles and passenger cars to heavy commercial, military and off-road vehicles with their staff of 300.

It was a real pleasure to spend a day at Millbrook.

National Motor Vehicle Title Information System

September 26, 2011 Dealerships & Salvage No Comments

Has That Vehicle Been Damaged?

 

 

United States Department of Justice

NMVTIS

 

National Motor Vehicle Title Information System is the national federal database that shows if the vehicle has been a total loss.

Came out of 1992 Anti Theft Act.  This took 17 years to come to fruition including Cash For Clunkers.  It is a requirement for salvage yards and automotive recycling companies to report VIN numbers when the vehicle comes in and if the vehicle is crushed that VIN is also submitted. Flood damaged vehicle VIN’s are to be entered.  Auto Auction companies enter the VIN information.

NMVTIS

Reports cost $2.95 to $4.95 and this report is independent of CarFax.

NMVTIS titling is carried forward. Older vehicle historical records may not be in the system.

Alliance Inspection Management (AIM) do inspections for consumers and for dealers. They will run database checks, engine and transmission oil sample analysis, and provide an assessment for the vehicle’s condition.

Automotive Cloning

Bad guys could take an automobile and change or replate the VIN to a good car or a salvage vehicle that they have purchased the salvage VIN. You can expect to find 20 VIN numbers on a modern car.

Creative Crime

In one criminal example the same VIN was used to export six (6) vehicles that had been cloned with the same VIN.

Inspection

Consumer inspection can cost $129 to $400 for a full inspection with fluid samples and vehicle history reports, as reported by Alliance Inspection Management.

Autoline Detroit

Below is the link to Autoline Detroit from September 25, 2011.  The show focuses on flood and damage vehicle issues with representatives from Alliance Inspection Management and the Automotive Recyclers Associaiton meeting with host John McElroy.

httpv://www.autoline.tv/journal/?p=18137

Random Photos From Automotive Tribune Site

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Richard Kubis Explains Solar Thermal Hybrid Automobile