Wednesday, July 6, 2011


New fuel standards currently under discussion will bring
challenges to our automotive industry that we can meet.

The Obama administration has been pushing a rather ambitious gas mileage standard on the automotive industry of roughly 56 miles per gallon by 2025.(NYT July 3, 2011).  This has far reaching implications on the way automobile components and assemblies will be manufactured to meet any new mileage requirements.

For example, Rotor Clip has long contended that our line of retaining rings is an ideal way to reduce fastener costs by eliminating multiple fastening systems and costly shaft/housing preparation. In fact, auto makers are generally in agreement that they and their suppliers could similarly do the things necessary to meet a reasonable mileage standard.

The more pressing question is what effect will the new requirements have on the overall cost of the vehicle? The consensus among industry observers is that the resulting vehicle will be smaller and come with a much higher price tag, two factors that may turn off consumers.

Still, let’s not second guess American manufacturing's ingenuity to make components that will ultimately reduce the weight of vehicles along with our dependence on foreign sources of energy.  Here are four good examples of manufacturing breakthroughs right here in America:

  1. Steel—Inventor Gary Cola recently devised a process of heat treating steel that makes it 7 % stronger than martensitic high-strength steels. Once perfected, Cola believes this steel would enable automotive companies to build frames 30% thinner and lighter than conventional ones (Design Daily, Friday, June 10, 2011).
  2. Batteries—MIT researchers are in the middle of a 3 year program launched in 2010 to develop a lightweight battery for hybrid vehicles. They have come up with a unique prototype battery  that they believe already meets these requirements. The scientists are also looking to develop the battery so that it could be “refueled,” like changing a car’s oil thus enabling it to function like a brand new one.
  3. Ceramics—Manufacturers are even testing lightweight engines made from ceramics. Engine blocks made of these materials have been produced but costs so far have been high and unlikely to be easily mass produced for today’s modern automobile. There’s much work to be done, but it’s a sure bet that research will continue in this critical area.
  4. At Rotor Clip we are always expanding our R&D efforts to experiment with new, exotic materials that deliver the required performance at lower weights and overall costs.

Regardless of where one stands politically on the issue, I’m certain of one thing: US manufacturing will step up to the challenge for the benefit of our economy and our environment.

Craig Slass is Co-President/Owner of Rotor Clip Company, Inc. 

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