The Truth About Cars » standards The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:25:17 +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 » standards Medium, Heavy Truck Fuel Economy Standards Deadline Set For March 2016 Wed, 19 Feb 2014 11:00:25 +0000 International LoneStar

Before a gathering at a distribution warehouse in Maryland, United States President Barack Obama announced that his administration has set March 2016 as the deadline for the next round of fuel efficiency and emissions standards for medium and heavy trucks to meet compliance.

Bloomberg reports President Obama’s latest initiative — part of his overall strategy regarding energy security and climate change — will bring “thousands of dollars of savings every year” for truck operators while also benefiting the economy via lower costs for consumer goods and new technology development. Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the new standards by March 2015.

Industry groups in general were supportive of the announcement, which will also see manufacturers working with the federal government on bringing new trucks up to the new standards, though American Trucking Association president Bill Graves urged the Obama administration to proceed with caution by setting forth a path “that is both based on the best science and research available and economically achievable.”

Moving forward from 2016, the next set of standards to come into force by 2018 and beyond will see the industry aggressively use technology — especially in the use of aerodynamics — to meet the fuel economy standards set at that time,.

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Car Companies, Standard Thyself Or Die Sat, 03 Mar 2012 19:36:09 +0000

The two-by-four, the 4×8 plywood sheet, the standard brick: Without standardized building materials, building houses would be a mess. The car industry is in that kind of a mess (more or less.) To get out of the mess, to shorten development times and to lower cost, just about every large automaker is on some kind of a standardization drive. Usually, these standards won’t go beyond the company, even alliances have problems agreeing on a common standard. When Nissan unveiled its Common Module Family (CMF) last Monday at its R&D  center in Atsugi, we asked whether this Common Module Family also would extend to Renault. After all, both companies had standardized on the same CEO.

We received an evasive answer.

The idea behind standardization is this: Just like houses are built from standard building materials and yet maintain their individual style (unless we have lazy architects,) cars could be designed from standard building blocks. Common platforms were one step in that direction, but it was just a first step on a very long road.

When GM announced its standardization drive last year, it was looking at 30 “core architectures” and a huge number of regional solutions. By 2014, GM wanted to shrink the number of “core architectures” to 24. By 2018, GM wanted to have eliminated all regional architectures and be ready to serve 90 percent of the volume with 14 global architectures. GM is at the very beginning of standardization.

On the other side of the spectrum appears to be Volkswagen with its MQB, MLB etc. kits. Volkswagen is about to take the next step, abandon platforms altogether and instead will design its cars from building blocks with clearly defined measurements and interfaces.

Nissan is somewhere in the middle. Nissan’s CMF uses four modules – engine compartment, cockpit, front underbody and rear underbody and a common architecture for electronic components. They call that 4+1. Then, they change the modules. They will need at least two engines compartments, three front underbodies, three cockpits, and three rear underbodies. Full standardization will take a while.

I pulled a Nissan engineer to the side and asked him how CMF compares to Volkswagen’s MQB. After the requisite quantity of air was sucked through the teeth, my engineer said that Volkswagen is in an enviable position. VW already had been building its cars from a handful of platforms, whereas Nissan “more or less did build a new platform for each car.” So for Nissan, it’s a big step to go to 4+1, which actually is 2x3x3x3+1=55

Indeed, Volkswagen makes its cars from 5 platforms, A0 through D, with most of the volume in A and B. When it comes to standardization, Volkswagen is way ahead of the crowd and can now take the next step towards the holy grail of standard building blocks, “Lego Blocks” as the dream is called in the business.

One indicator of the much higher granularity of the Volkswagen kits: Volkswagen specifically said that the kits allow them to design and built low volume cars quickly and reasonably. Nissan on the other hand stops using the CMF architecture if a car is built less than 5,000 times a year.

Designing cars from common building blocks and making them with standardized parts should lower the cost. Both Volkswagen and Nissan interestingly talk about a 30 percent cost reduction. Don’t think prices will drop because of this. Nissan says that government demands on safety and fuel efficiency raise the cost by 30 percent. The savings from standardization pay for compliance with government rules.

All larger car companies are busy with one standardization project or the other. By the end of last week, Toyota announced that it wants to develop common parts for about half of its 4,000-5,000 components within the next four years. A carmaker that is not thinking about standardization should be thinking about retirement.

The Godzilla of all standardization drives does not seem to happen: Still under the shock of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the Japanese government had demanded that automakers standardize most of the parts used by all Japanese makers. As things went back to normal, this demand was quickly ignored and forgotten.


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And Now, The Charger Wars Tue, 04 May 2010 06:44:07 +0000

Did you ever arrive in a foreign country, and the plug of your battery-depleted cell phone did not fit? Or worse, it did fit, and the charger went up in smoke? That’s nothing compared to the impending EV disaster. Buy an EV, and you will find yourself between the battle lines of plugs, voltages, and technologies. Imagine the horror: Guided by your GPS, you limp into a charging station on the last watts in your battery, and their round plug doesn’t fit your square socket.

The Japanese government has set a goal of 5,000 high-speed charging stations in place nationwide by 2020, writes The Nikkei [sub]. Some say that this is a mere shadow of the approximately 50,000 gas station in Japan that serve cars with a much bigger range. Other say that this is Japan’s move to establish a fait accompli in the worldwide race to establish a global standard for charging technology.

In Japan alone, all kinds of companies are entering the charging business. They range from established charger manufacturers such as Takaoka Electric and Hasetec  to Nissan which wants to install proprietary charging equipment at 200 group dealerships (nice traffic generator…) Even trading houses like Marubeni want in on the game.

Toyota, Nissan, Tokyo Electric Power Co. and 155 other companies and associations formed a consortium in March to promote the Japanese standard, dubbed CHAdeMO. Earlier in the year, Japan has been making moves to set ECE standards for electric vehicles.

The U.S. and European countries have their own ideas and their own technologies. Setting the standard “would give their automakers an advantage in the market for electric vehicles,” says the Nikkei. Ain’t that the truth.

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Japan’s JAMA Will Cooperate On International Car Standard Fri, 12 Mar 2010 10:19:03 +0000

Japan’s Automobile Manufacturers Association said “hai, wakatta” (yes, we understand) to their government, and promised to “actively support the creation of an international mutual-recognition framework for passenger cars,” reports The Nikkei [sub].

Turns out, the Japanese government is behind the idea to agree on an International Whole Car Type Approval. The idea had been floated in Geneva, and received widespread agreement. No wonder: The Europeans are intimately familiar with the concept, due to their European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA). And the Americans aren’t part of the party. They are doing their own FMVSS thing.

A working group under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (which had long spread to all parts of the world, despite its name) agreed Wednesday to create an international framework for cars. A specific plan is to be drawn up over a year or so. The standards are planned to be ready by March 2016.  That seems to be a bit long, given that the European standards are already in place. But the 6 years give everybody time to get ready.

According to the Nikkei, “the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association hopes that a new framework will foster more widespread use of safe, green vehicles. It also believes that the cost of getting vehicles approved will decline for automakers.” Before, it was mostly the Japanese opposition that frustrated attempts to agree on an international standard. A kick in the rear end by their government seems to have changed that position. Also, Euro/Nipponese alliances are all the rage, whereas relationships with the U.S. have, well, cooled off. As long as the U.S.A. boycotts UNECE, U.S. car exports will not profit from the new rules.

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