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

DC banning PS foam containers

July 30, 2014 2:34 pm ET

Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gra signed into law on July 29 a bill that will ban polystyrene foam food and drink containers from the District.    More

Image

Pressure is on to replace aging gas pipes

July 30, 2014 2:47 pm ET

Polyethylene is the plastic replacement material of choice for modernizing the natural gas distribution system — so much so some are concerned...    More

Image

Sainsbury, Schoeller Allibert to recycle food handling crates

July 30, 2014 1:37 pm ET

British retail group Sainsbury's has contracted Dutch recycler Schoeller Allibert BV to reprocess all of its old food crates back into food-grade...    More

Image

Vinyl siding's lead slips, but industry pushing back

July 29, 2014 2:04 pm ET

Vinyl siding continues to be the top cladding choice for home builders and remodelers but fiber cement is gaining ground — at an alarming rate...    More

Image

Magna expanding interiors site in Slovakia

July 29, 2014 1:47 pm ET

Magna International Inc. plans to nearly double the size of its manufacturing facility in Trnava, in western Slovakia, to accommodate new automotive i...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recyclers Data Report & Directory

This exclusive MS Excel database contains all the companies from Plastics News' ranking of top North American Recyclers and Brokers by reprocessed volume and also includes a directory with materials processes, services offered and company contact information. Data is based on primary research by PN editorial staff.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

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

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

More Events