Mileage-boosting tech on display at auto show

Dustin Walsh

Published: January 14, 2013 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Automotive, Sustainability, Public Policy

DETROIT (Jan. 14, 11 a.m. ET) — Cars will do what cars do at the North American International Auto Show — draw crowds and cameras.

But at several exhibits, rapid advancements in new fuel-saving products will have supplier executives and politicians using the Detroit event as a showcase for new technology and a platform to talk about the future.

While automotive infotainment was the focus at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, fuel economy technology will shine at this week’s NAIAS media and industry days at Cobo Center.

Suppliers such as Denso International America Inc. and Johnson Controls Inc. are displaying emerging fuel-saving technology at this year’s show.

Doug Patton, senior vice president of Denso International’s engineering division, said suppliers are moving toward complete systems to highlight technology, which makes them more visible than individual products.

“There’s always been a lot of technology at the auto show, but it’s been buried in the car and you didn’t see it,” Patton said. “What you’re seeing now is a system approach where we bring technologies together and look at them as a whole for the best value.”

The challenge, experts say, is how to unite these technology advancements with sales strategies for OEMs.

David Cole, chairman of nonprofit research group Auto Harvest and chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., said the increase in fuel-savings technology is a prime example of an uncertain industry.

Bottom line: The added costs of these technologies, while promoted and touted at NAIAS, may not equate to consumer adoption — at least not yet.

“We’re really pushing the laws of the thermodynamics of engine performance, but at what cost?” Cole said. “This is really expensive stuff, and nobody has the right answer to the best benefit, so everyone is kind of out there working on a lot of things.”

The government push for fuel economy is pitting increased technology against consumer pocketbooks. CAR estimates a $2,000 increased vehicle cost for a 20 percent improvement in fuel economy.

“Is that enough?” Cole said. “It’s a very confusing period for the industry.”

Government-regulated CAFE standards require manufacturers to meet a 54.5 mpg average across their fleets by 2025.

Automakers and suppliers alike continue to push these technologies and push further into vehicle electrification to appease government demands, despite ho-hum sales.

The Detroit show is expected to host various federal officials from EPA and other agencies.

Among the green cars being highlighted at the Detroit show, General Motors Co. will unveil its Cadillac ELR Luxury Electric Hybrid on Tuesday morning, Via Motors will showcase battery-electric cars and BMW will debut its ActiveHybrid3.

Experts say that for consumers, range anxiety remains the biggest stumbling block for EV adoption. The Chevy Volt, for example, achieves roughly 40 miles on its electric battery before a traditional gas-powered motor steps in.

In a KPMG LLP study released last week, 87 percent of automotive executives said EVs won’t match the range of gas-powered vehicles for at least another five years.

“Clearly, they don’t see the numbers of these vehicles increasing,” said Betsy Meter, partner at KPMG in Detroit and its automotive audit leader. “We all kept expecting these numbers to significantly increase, but executives continue to see them at a low level, despite investment.”

U.S. EV sales totaled 52,835 in 2012, according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association. The grand total of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles sold last year in the U.S. totaled 487,480, which represents 3.4 percent of the 14.5 million cars sold last year.

That’s better than the 2.2 percent of total sales in 2011. And the market for EVs is expanding alongside the growing U.S. auto market — which is expected to eclipse 15 million units this year.


Comments

Mileage-boosting tech on display at auto show

Dustin Walsh

Published: January 14, 2013 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

New extruders, repelletizer to improve production for InterGroup

December 17, 2014 6:00 am ET

InterGroup International Ltd. will install new, larger extruders and repelletizers at all three of its plastic scrap recycling locations in 2015.    More

Image

Investments allow UK's Jayplas to keep recycling supply chain at home

December 17, 2014 9:32 am ET

Corby, England-based plastics recycler Jayplas has announced the completion of a new extrusion and printing plant, together with a new packaging...    More

Image

Ecojug trims HDPE from milk jugs

December 17, 2014 8:57 am ET

United Diary Inc. has saved 1.7 million pounds of high density polythylene during the production of 80 million of its new Ecojug milk jug design...    More

Image

Fiat Chrysler drops Chrysler Group name in favor of FCA US

December 16, 2014 9:05 am ET

Chrysler is Chrysler no more. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the Netherlands-based parent company of what was Chrysler Group LLC, said today that it has...    More

Izo-Blok opens Polish car part plant

December 15, 2014 9:16 am ET

Poland's plastic car parts maker Izo-Blok has launched its new production facility in Chorzów, in Poland's southern region of Silesia.    More

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

Our latest RESEARCH report examines trends in FLEXIBLE PACKAGING impacting the North American market including a review of economic conditions, key drivers of growth, materials pricing, M&A activity, sustainability challenges and the outlook for 2015.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events