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Technical Paper

Structural Changes in the World Auto Companies: The Emerging Japanese Role

Japan’s recent dominance of the international auto industry does not result from some major single factor, such as technological superiority or advanced automation. It derives from twenty years of building flexible, durable industrial systems integrating assemblers, suppliers, and related companies. Current competitive advantages result from combinations of seemingly unrelated company, government, and labor practices. Japan’s position of leadership will instigate major changes in international labor forces, corporate strategies, and government policies, as former auto powers adapt to new competition, and simultaneous shifts in energy and economics.
Technical Paper

Alternative Tooling Technologies for Low Volume Stamping

Low volume manufacturing has become increasingly important for the automotive industry. Globalization trends have led automakers and their suppliers to operate in developing regions where minimum efficient scales can not always be achieved. With proper maintenance, standard cast iron stamping tools can be used to produce millions of parts, but require large investments. Thus at high production volumes, the impact of the tooling investment on individual piece costs is minimized. However, at low volumes there is a substantial cost penalty. In light of the trends towards localized manufacturing and relatively low demands in some developing markets, low cost stamping tools are needed. Several alternate tooling technologies exist, each of which require significantly lower initial investments, but suffer from greatly reduced tool lives. However, the use of these technologies at intermediate to high volumes requires multiple tool sets thus eliminating their cost advantage.
Technical Paper

Pickup Truck Aerodynamics - Keep Your Tailgate Up

The aerodynamic effects of the pickup truck tailgate are examined in this paper. It is shown that the removal or the lowering of the tailgate increases the aerodynamic drag of a pickup truck, increases lift by up to sixty percent and increases the yawing moment. All these changes are negative and reduce vehicle performance, albeit, only by small amounts. This finding demonstrates that the commonly seen removal of tailgates to reduce aerodynamic drag is a public misconception that should be discouraged by manufacturers and by regulators.
Technical Paper

Crash Safety of Lithium-Ion Batteries Towards Development of a Computational Model

Battery packs for Hybrids, Plug-in Hybrids, and Electric Vehicles are assembled from a system of modules (sheets) with a tight sheet metal casing around them. Each module consists of an array of individual cells which vary in the composition of electrodes and separator from one manufacturer to another. In this paper a general procedure is outlined on the development of a constitutive and computational model of a cylindrical cell. Particular emphasis is placed on correct prediction of initiation and propagation of a tearing fracture of the steel can. The computational model correctly predicts rupture of the steel can which could release aggressive chemicals, fumes, or spread the ignited fire to the neighboring cells. The initiation site of skin fracture depends on many factors such as the ductility of the casing material, constitutive behavior of the system of electrodes, and type of loading.
Journal Article

An Assessment of the Rare Earth Element Content of Conventional and Electric Vehicles

Rare earths are a group of elements whose availability has been of concern due to monopolistic supply conditions and environmentally unsustainable mining practices. To evaluate the risks of rare earths availability to automakers, a first step is to determine raw material content and value in vehicles. This task is challenging because rare earth elements are used in small quantities, in a large number of components, and by suppliers far upstream in the supply chain. For this work, data on rare earth content reported by vehicle parts suppliers was assessed to estimate the rare earth usage of a typical conventional gasoline engine midsize sedan and a full hybrid sedan. Parts were selected from a large set of reported parts to build a hypothetical typical mid-size sedan. Estimates of rare earth content for vehicles with alternative powertrain and battery technologies were made based on the available parts' data.
Journal Article

CoQ Tradeoffs in Manufacturing Process Improvement and Inspection Strategy Selection: A Case Study of Welded Automotive Assemblies

In today's highly competitive automotive markets manufacturers must provide high quality products to survive. Manufacturers can achieve higher levels of quality by changing or improving their manufacturing process and/or by product inspection where many strategies with different cost implications are often available. Cost of Quality (CoQ) reconciles the competing objectives of quality maximization and cost minimization and serves as a useful framework for comparing available manufacturing process and inspection alternatives. In this paper, an analytic CoQ framework is discussed and some key findings are demonstrated using a set of basic inspection strategy scenarios. A case of a welded automotive assembly is chosen to explore the CoQ tradeoffs in inspection strategy selection and the value of welding process improvement. In the assembly process, many individual components are welded in series and each weld is inspected for quality.