The Truth About Cars » Johnson Controls The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 19 Jul 2014 05:27:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Johnson Controls General Motors To Release Valukas Report On Ignition Switch Thursday Thu, 05 Jun 2014 12:01:54 +0000 File photo of General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit

Automotive News reports General Motors will release Thursday the results of attorney Anton Valukas’s three-month independent internal investigation into how and where the automaker went wrong before recalling 2.6 million vehicles affected by an out-of-spec ignition switch linked to 47 accidents and at least 13 fatalities. The announcement will come at 9 a.m. Eastern via webcast, with what CEO Mary Barra says will be an “unvarnished” look at the events surrounding the recall. In addition, GM will have an update on plans for compensating victims of the switch, though the attorney heading up the affair, Kenneth Feinberg, says a formal announcement won’t come until a few weeks down the road. Reuters adds the Valukas report will likely exonerate Barra, former CEO Dan Akerson and other senior execs and board members of any wrongdoing over the recall, with “a number of people” to be formally dismissed from the company due to their ties to recall. The report will be turned over to the federal government by the end of June.

Speaking of turned-over documents, The Detroit News reports some 1 million pages of records linked to the ignition switch have been turned over to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee in its investigation into the matter, now expected to last well into the summer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also delivered a total of 15,000 documents related to its handling of the recall to the committee, as well. As for when Barra will return for a second round of testimony before Congress, the first potential date may be set sometime in July at the earliest.

Finally, Reuters says Canadian labor union Unifor will strike at GM supplier Johnson Controls Whitby, Ontario plant if the powers that be refuse to reconsider plans to shut down the plant and move production outside of Canada in two years. The strike would “shut down GM” at its Oshawa plant according to statements made before the 36th UAW Constitutional Congress by Unifor president Jerry Dias, with the strike and negotiations set to commence in August. The Whitby plant supplies interior components for the Chevrolet Camaro and Impala, which are assembled in Oshawa alongside the Cadillac XTS and Buick Regal.

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Self-Adjusting Seats Find A Home In Luxury Cars Mon, 17 Feb 2014 10:00:09 +0000 Auto-Adjusting Seat

With help from Faurecia SA and Johnson Controls — the latter predicting the death of the steering wheel by 2025luxury car owners could find themselves with one less thing (or 22) to worry about as self-adjusting seats aim to take the guesswork out of comfortable driving.

Automotive News reports that the two leading seat suppliers are working on self-adjusting seats that utilize cameras and pressure sensors to tailor the perfect seating for a level of comfort not easily achieved with the numerous controls currently found in luxury sedans, as Faurecia’s senior industrial design manager Olivier Boinais explains:

The complexity of a luxury sedan’s seat controls taxes the motorist’s patience. For the past 10 years, we’ve been trying to simplify the [seat] adjustments while providing comfort.

Boinais expects his employer’s seat, the Oasis, will first be found in luxury long-wheelbase sedans meant for chauffeuring executives from meeting to meeting in Beijing and San Jose, such the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8. The Oasis works its magic by utilizing a video camera to help the executive fire and hire people in comfort.

Johnson Controls’ own seat goes for a two-pronged approach: The passenger first enters their height via smartphone or onboard console, then sits back against the adjusted head and foot rests as pressure sensors evaluate posture for perfect seating.

According to JCI’s group vice president of technology management Andreas Eppinger, having the seat do the work can quickly improve driving comfort, leaving more time to focus on more important matters:

If you have ever tried to adjust a seat with 18 controls, it keeps you pretty busy. You can sit however you want, but if you are not sitting in the perfect position, you might regret it after an hour.

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Expert: 54.5 MPG CAFE Mark Reachable With Few Plug-Ins Tue, 21 Jan 2014 13:00:23 +0000 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrid, Exterior, Charging Plug, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

For automakers worried about meeting the 54.5 mpg CAFE mark by 2025, Johnson Controls — the ones who predicted the end of the steering wheel by 2025 — assured them that the target could be met, and without the need to turn everything into a plug-in or full EV.

Johnson Controls own Brian Kessler, who heads the company’s battery division, claims that a combination of turbocharging, stop-start systems, direct injection and other bleeding-edge fuel economy technology could be leveraged to meet this target. He then added that no automaker necessarily needs to go the route of Tesla, Nissan or Toyota to meet the CAFE target, implicitly endorsing the Environmental Protection Agency’s approach to fuel economy regulations over that of the California Air Resource Board’s mandate of electric batteries or fuel cells for zero-emission vehicles.

While most manufacturers have had mixed results with plug-in hybrids and other EVs, they’ve had better luck upgrading the internal combustion engine to meet the challenge before them. Downsized and turbocharged powertrains, like Ford’s EcoBoost engine lineup, were cited as a cost effective solution. 80 percent of the Blue Oval’s line of vehicles can be optioned with an EcoBoost engine, spreading the cost of development throughout the line. Of course, downsized turbo engines are notorious for delivering big numbers on government fuel economy tests, while falling short of real world fuel economy expectations.


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Automotive supplier prognosticator predicts demise of the steering wheel by 2025 Thu, 17 Oct 2013 11:00:50 +0000 The end of the steering wheel

Be afraid. Be very afraid. If the aspirations of one automotive supplier come to pass, your child’s first car will not have a steering wheel come 2025, rendering her or him nothing more than a mere passenger inside a tiny commuter pod.

In this frightening article from The Detroit News, Han Hendricks (no relation to Christina Hendricks), vice president of advanced product development for the Milwaukee, Wis.-based supplier Johnson Controls in their automotive electronics and interiors wing suggests that as auto manufacturers race to develop, and then improve upon, autonomous cars, the driver will figure less and less into the overall scheme of things (something that has been evolving as of late, with parking and lane-keeping technologies as two examples), leading to the deletion of the steering wheel around 2025. To quote:

After 2025, the steering wheel will play a less dominant role in the interior. With fully autonomous vehicles, you don’t have to be forward looking as a driver, you don’t need to have an instrument panel. Then you can really just think of a car as a box that you enter.

All just as well, since by then everything your child will think, do or say will be in the pill they took that day anyway.

To hammer the point home, Hendricks goes on to mention that Johnson Controls is planning to speak with automakers in China, Europe and North America in November about this brave new world, as well as the usual industry experts and visionaries who deal in such things as the transition from driver autonomy to robot car autonomy, all in order to refine their dream of the automated superhighway of tomorrow.

If you’re a driver, however, don’t expect Hendricks to ask you whether or not this is desirable:

It’ll help our vision become more robust. It’s not as if we’re going to go out and ask consumers, because people just don’t think about it.

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Siemens and NEC Added to List of A123 Buyers Thu, 06 Dec 2012 20:42:35 +0000 In the bankruptcy auction for EV battery maker A123 that begins today, Reuters is reporting that NEC of Japan and Siemens of Germany are going to join China’s Wangxiang and Wisconsin’s Johnson Controls in bidding for the entire company.

In addition to those trying to buy the company in toto there are also reported to be a number of interests looking to salvage individual pieces of the battery company, like its brand new but well underutilized factory in Holland, Michigan. If either NEC, Siemens or Wangxiang wins the auction they would probably still need the approbation of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The U.S. government has also indicated that it will have to approve any purchase that involves transferring the $249 million Dept. of Energy grant that A123 was given. All of the bodies that have to give their approval are in the executive branch, so politics may enter into the decision. The Pope is also a Roman Catholic and bears indeed defecate in the woods. National security is a part of the equation as well because A123 has at least one contract for the Pentagon that is classified. All of that seems to favor the one domestic bidder, Johnson Controls.

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The Chinese Still Want A123 Thu, 18 Oct 2012 02:00:06 +0000

When we reported that battery maker A123 had filed for bankruptcy, a lot of people thought that Johnson Controls is in control, and that Chinese Wanxiang is out. No and no, writes Reuters star car reporter Norihiko Shirouzu. Wanxiang still wants A123, and Johnson Controls is just one bidder in a Chapter 11 process, says Reuters.

China’s Wanxing had offered $465 million for all of A123. A123  agreed to sell its automotive operations, including two factories in Michigan, for $125 million to Johnson Controls. That “deal could be countered by other offers that would be more beneficial to A123′s creditors,” Jefferies analyst Peter Nesvold said in a research note. “Wanxiang is the most likely other participant in this process, and we are not aware of other suitors at this time.” A123’s creditors most likely would prefer someone who pays $465 million for all of A123 instead of someone who pays $125 million for a part of the company, with no takers for the rest.

In August, Wanxiang had announced its intentions to take over A123. The Chinese company immediately gave A123 a $22.5 million loan, including a cash advance of $12.5 million. Wanxiang offered more money, based on a list of requirements, including approval from the Committee of Foreign Investment and the Chinese government, as well as the absence of any default. “Shortly before filing for bankruptcy, it became apparent that A123 would fall short of some of those conditions,” Reuters remarks dryly. The bankruptcy tripped another circuit breaker.

Reuters also remarks that “A123 Systems, which won a $249 million U.S. government grant in 2009 for jump-starting its business” wanted to sell to Johnson Controls, which is “another recipient of federal green subsidies.”

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Introducing A Car With Stadium Seating Tue, 11 Jan 2011 14:56:15 +0000

Want a small electric car that looks like a movie theater or even a stadium inside?  Johnson Controls shows the ie.3 concept car at NAIAS. Sure, it has a battery. But it also has spring loaded flip-up seats, just like at the movies. Or at he ballpark.

Johnson Controls says the flip-up seats create something that is sorely needed in small cars: Space. You can put some suitcases on the floor when the seats are flipped up. Johnson Controls produces batteries and interiors for vehicles. But they don’t make cars. “The ie:3 could be an attractive model for electric car buyers, although unfortunately it won’t go on sale,” writes an impressed Independent.

Maybe some other automaker will take them up on the idea. Flip a coin?

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