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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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Auto Dealer Agony

Auto Dealer Agony

daytona-lm_2It is almost impossible to imagine that auto dealerships would be in such chaos today.  Dealerships, particularly for the domestic brands, are closing by the hundreds and thousands. 

Auto dealerships have been economic engines of success.  Yes there have been some failures as manufacturers and products have disappeared over the past 100 years.  For decades owning a dealership has been a “license to print money” in the opinion of your Editor who happened to have a dealership for 10 years.

Historically, auto dealers have been great community citizens.  Dealers have sponsored little league and many sporting events along with a multitude of civic and community activity.  Event sponsorship was because they had money to do it an they were part of the local “fabric of society” … Continue Reading

Professional Driving Focus

Drive Like A Professioal

Do you drive like a professional even if you are a professional driver?  Do you drive like a professional even if you are not a professional driver?  These are difficult questions that also include many other variables.  Is it possible to do everything right?  Or, from a more fundamental position maybe the question should be something like “what are the issues and characteristics associated with professional driving”?

steering-wheel-controlProfessional Driving Defined

Professional driving means that you know what to do and do it.  Sounds basic but it is very difficult to consistently execute.  Consider how an airline pilot controls the plane, there is one ultimate objective which is to safely make the trip.  In many ways aircraft operation is a parallel to automobile operation.  This is not to say that you have to be a pilot to be a professional driver.  However, applying realistic performance standards and expectations to driving will make you  a better driver.

But I Am A Good Driver

Driving  in a professional manner represents a set of critically important skills.  If you have a Driver’s License then you successfully got an identification card.  Driver training may have included some classroom time and time in a driver training car with an instructor.  With classroom knowledge and hands-on experience you were ready for the high-anxiety Official Driving Test which consisted of an eye exam, written and driving test.  Presumably you passed the first time.

A License To Learn

Top racing drivers are legends and they got to be legends because they were very good.  Consider a series of names: Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Elio Castroneves, Danica Patrick, Mario Andretti, AJ Foyt, Fireball Roberts, Ray Fox, Fred Marriott, and you.  Being a professional driver does not necessarily mean that you have to race a car.

hold-left-and-shuffle-rightDoes the Pilot have to race the Plane

You expect a pilot to professionally operate the plane.  Racing the plane is not the success point.  Getting safely to the destination is the success point.

Pilot Training and Driver Training

With the newly-minted driver’s license our driver goes to a Flight Training program which consists of classroom ground school which must be successfully passed and then a minimum of 40 hours operational time in the aircraft.  Realistically in today’s environment of airspace restrictions and operational restrictions 60 hours would be considered fast.  Completion of ground school and flight training permits you to go for a check-ride with a Certified Pilot that has the FAA capability to sign you off as a pilot that can fly the plane in a manner the FAA deems reasonably competent. … Continue Reading

GM Starting Over

“If it’s good for GM it’s good for the Country”

gm-the-newThis is a classic paradigm statement that quickly polarizes everyone. Originally quoted by Charles Erwin Wilson defense secretary for President Eisenhower in the 1950’s.  Regarding this statement and your opinion, you fall into one of two distinct groups. GM is either very significant and should get Government help or GM is pretty much worthless and should go away.

The Automotive Tribune is of the position that GM is unique to the US with direct and indirect values so great that it must be saved. Major US based manufacturing is vital to the long term business and industrial health of the Country and that is why GM must be assisted through the current crisis.

Looking forward 5-10-50 years is the only way to get a realistic perspective of the importance of GM. However, looking back 100-50-10-5 years gets us to today. History provides a very real view that puts a strong foundation in place to support GM assistance. One fact that is absolutely clear is that GM has been off its core automotive track for a terribly long time and being off the core automotive track has caused a train wreck. Today, only the US Government can put GM back on track.

Industrial Education

History is a good word and the study of history helps to provide a basis and foundation for society today. Education, at all levels and in all cultures is respected for how and why it helps individuals and society. Industrial history education or simply industrial education is the study of tools, materials, processes, products, and problems associated with building things. Industrial education also deals with the larger scale issues associated with the who, what, when, where and why issues that shaped the broad scope of industrial activity. Industrial activity has built the infrastructure for the industrialized world that you live in today. You live in a house, drive a car, turn on lights or water, use the phone or television, visit the grocery or physician, breathe polluted or clean air, these are all facets of industrial society that represent direction that society wanted to have take and today you live in an industrialized world.

Industrialized World

People did not always live in an industrialized world. In broad terms when farmers got productive with agriculture to produce more food than they consumed some people could go to work in industry outside of farming; this is referred to as the transition from an Agrarian Society to an Industrial Society which started in the 1800’s. Government leaders recognized how important education was for both agrarian and industrial sectors so the Morrill Land Grant Act was passed in 1862 to set aside land that would be used to support education in the US and establish agricultural and mechanical university programs in each state, a process that provides financial support to the State Land Grant Universities.

Agrarian to Industrial

Industrial goods and services with increased productivity meant that fewer people could provide more food for society which permitted more people to enter the industrial work force to produce more high-value goods and services. Industrial output grows, financial output grows, and society as a whole gets richer.

Industrial to Information

In the 1950’s and 1960’s the transistor was invented. In its simplest definition a transitory could be though of as a very small off-on switch. Adding more transistors permitted computer software and hardware to utilize programs to make decisions. Contemporary terms such as computer programs, artificial intelligence, algorithms, Moore’s Law, personal computer, space travel, text messaging, and wireless represent some items that affect everyone to some extent each and every minute of evert day.

Getting To Today

Without Detroit the US would have lost WWII. Without North American industrial production WWII could not have been won. Allied forces used the industrial products of planes, tanks, ships, jeeps, guns, parachutes, electricity, oil, atomic weapons, and cigarettes to win the war. Some products were great and some not-so-great. Allied forces won the war. Axis forces were very good and resourceful but they ultimately did not have the available resources necessary to win the war. Germany did remarkable things in many areas including jet aircraft and synthetic fuels production to power their war machines but these activities did not win the war for the axis powers.

Post WWII Politics

Europe and Japan were re-built. A “Cold War” nuclear arsenal triad of mega-powers developed with China, Soviet Union USSR, and the Free World. USSR collapses and OPEC grows in significance to significantly influence the world oil supply which directly affects stability of the industrialized economies.

energy_victory_coverEnergy Victory by Dr. Robert Zubrin

One of the most significant books in modern times is Energy Victory by Dr. Robert Zubrin published in 2007.  I met with Dr. Zubrin last year and found him to be a highly motivated and successful man who has many years experience in various scientific programs including the US Space Program.  Dr. Zubrin chronicles the developmental history of middle east oil and Saudi Arabia from the mid 1700’s and early 1800’s and how Saudi oil money has a direct link to politics in the US and international terrorism. 

On the book jacket is a quote from James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency “Robert Zubrin pulls no punches and moves effortlessly from a fascinating oil-centered take on WW II to making the mathematics of oil alternatives intelligible to lay readers.  Oil and hydrogen take huge hits and alcohol fuels win big.  Don’t miss this one.”

WWI Politics

Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated which brought Austria and Serbia into conflict and because of mutual support agreements Germany and France were brought into the war which then resulted in Germany, Italy, England, Australia, Canada, Japan, China, and the United States along with many other countries being involved.  World War I started because of an assassination.

Today’s World and Tomorrow’s World

Post WWI politics unfortunately set up the foundation for WWII. Post WWII set up the framework for today’s world. OPEC is a natural resource controlling group that affects everyone reading this article. Terrorist groups demonstrated their effectiveness on September 11, 2001. Pakistan has nuclear arms and Pakistan has a radical presence that is trying to control the country.

What is clear about world society is that major events are occurring and that major things will happen. Some major things will test or threaten all developed and industrialized societies.

Getting GM on Track is in the Best Interest of the United States.  There are serious problems associated with getting GM straightened out.  GM’s industrial capability is a strategic national asset that must be preserved.  Bringing the top business, economics, labor, technology, visionary, and governmental minds together can establish the Business Plan necessary for GM to be successful in the decades ahead.

Vulcan Visit, Starships, Star Trek & Space Shuttles

vulcan-alberta-canada-august-2001A Visit to Vulcan

If you have the opportunity to visit the city of Vulcan in Alberta, Canada it is definitely worth the trip, if you are a Star Trek fan.  Here is a photo of your intrepid Tribune Editor taken in 2001 with the 30′ long replica of Starship FX6-1995-A . 

The city of Vulcan has a Star Trek toursit station, Star Trek memorabilia, and The Vulcan Space Adventure virtual-reality game.  Here is the link to the Vulcan Tourism Website where: Make the “Trek” to Vulcan and Vulcan County, Alberta – and boldly go where you may not have gone before…  as the main topic right now is registration for VulCon 16: Spock Days/Galaxyfest 2009.

Starship Enterprise NCC-1701

spectators-at-new-smyrna-beachIt seems appropriate to acknowledge the significance of NCC-1701 otherwise known as the Starship Enterprise with the recent launch of STS-125 space shuttle Atlantis on Monday May 13, 2009.  NASA provides detailed internet coverage of the Space Shuttle and here is the latest on shuttle activity to repair the Hubble Telescope.

Space Shuttle STS-125 Launch

booster-separationMonday at launch time it was hazy.  Here are a couple of photographs taken at New Smyrna Beach which is about 30 miles north of Cape Canaveral.  The second photograph is taken as the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB’s) are separating which explains the unusual angle of their exhaust plumes. 

normal-blastoff-pathAn additional photo is shown from a 2008 launch which had much clearer weather to show the rocket trajectory.

New Star Trek Film

Additionally, there is a new Star Trek film that has just been released.  Here is a link to the movie trailers in the event you have not seen the film. 

Space Accomplishments Acknowledged

This is a great time to look into the sky and take pride in these important accomplishments.  If you happen to know an active or retired astronaut be sure and let them know that you are proud of what they, and the space program, have accomplished.  If you do not know an active or retired astronaut then you may wish to attend Lunch With An Astronaut at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

2009 Jeep Commander

2009 Jeep Commander Commands The Highway

commander-right-frontDriving the 2009 Jeep Commander is sort of like being King of the Highway.  This is definitely not a Jeep Renegade or Jeep Cherokee.  This is one big and awesome sport utility vehicle.

Rental Car Roulette

Several days ago I had the opportunity to be asking the lady on the other side of the rental car counter at the Denver Airport for the quick exit special that I had signed up for with my normal profile.  She said you can have your choice of #1 or #2 or #3 … you get the picture.  I said, let’s try the Jeep.

Let’s Try The Jeep … Continue Reading

US Auto Industry – Beyond the US and Beyond Graduate School

Chaos Brings Opportunity — In The Real Graduate Business School

If chaos brings opportunity then current circumstances present a multitude of opportunities in the car business. Undoubtedly, present circumstances represent a set of issues absolutely unforeseen except in a Graduate Business School program. Even there, variables that have brought on the current situation would have represented a set of circumstances that would be almost unimaginable.

An Unimaginable Scenario Even In Business School

government-motorsIf today’s situation were visualized as a raging river that needed to be crossed then the raging waters would include the economy, weak demand, and industry collapse. Players crossing the river represent an intrepid and diverse group and these players are crossng the raging waters right now because either they must or they see opportunity. Some group members chose this pathway and some had no choice but were swept up in the torrent and some did not have any opportunity but to participate or see collapse of a strategic industry in the US, North America and World.

Is It Academic and Historic

Two decades ago the scene was set for a massive business takeoverthat became the story memorialized in  Barbarians at the Gate written by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar describing a massive Wall Street and Industry economic power play.

This masterful work memorialized how financial minds envisioned and executed maneuvers to control huge financial sums and industries and has been called one of the most influential business books of all time — the definitive account of the largest takeover in Wall Street history.   This tomb addressed a facet of business that was totally dominating or crushing depending on which player you study.

Auto Industry Reality Is Not Academic

chrysler-fiatToday’s auto industry reality makes Barbarians seem to be only a prelude to the real business, industry and governmental drama. Reality composed of GM and Chrysler collapse, dealers terminated in a wholesale manner, UAW rethinking just about everything, US Government input to business plans, car lines being shut or sold, key players and groups stepping up to acquire select assets. These circumstances are absolutely beyond Graduate School Business Class 633.

The Real School of Hard Knocks

Current status of the US and World auto manufacturing is absolutely hard ball.  There are massive implications for current Corporate and National priorities around the Globe

Significance of the current situation has implications which go far beyond today’s immediate chaos.  Decisions made in 2009 will very tightly set the course of the Global auto industry tightly for the next five (5) to seven (7) years and set he paradigm for long term future.

Massive changes are going to happen in 2009.  Stating that another way, a hundered years ago was the foundation fr what is in place today.  How far into the future the survivors and new players go remains to be seen.  However, for the next hundred years, or at minimum couple of decades, decisions made in 2009 will play a seminal role in automotive manufacturing dominance.

Random Photos From Automotive Tribune Site

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Richard Kubis Explains Solar Thermal Hybrid Automobile