Nissan wanted some European fashion to move its American-made Maxima sedan further upscale for 2016. It turned to Alcantara, the Italian producer of material used in high-end apparel and automotive seating, to give the Maxima SR sport package the look of some exotic European sport coupes.
When you ask Dan Nicholson about a certain powertrain or technology, he doesn't tell you why it can't be done. Chances are, he'll tell you where it fits in General Motors' ambitious global powertrain portfolio. Nicholson, 51, who took over as GM's vice president of global powertrain late last year.
GM's Strategic Supplier Engagement process was rolled out this spring in an effort to smooth contentious supplier relations that have kept GM from accessing the best of suppliers' technical innovations. It is gaining fans.
After scrambling to improve its North American manufacturing base, Japanese supplier Aisin Seiki Co. targets a dramatic improvement of profit margin in the region. But its biggest challenge remains finding high-quality American subsuppliers.
To source fuel-efficient engines for their new small, premium cars, competitors Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti joined forces to create the Infiniti Powertrain Plant. Its an engine plant that is a little bit German, a little bit Japanese, a little bit American and very much global.
Toyoda Gosei Co., the Toyota Motor Corp.-affiliated Japanese auto parts supplier, boasts all the hallmarks of a global industrial giant. But to President Tadashi Arashima, it's just a small Japanese player. He wants to change that.
As North American production rises to record levels, Toyota Motor Corp. is taking steps to prevent production glitches among its suppliers. Bob Young, the automaker's North American purchasing chief, is providing assistance to 50 suppliers that are struggling to keep up with Toyota's production needs.
The auto industry's switch to global platforms is rapidly picking up momentum. In 2020, the top 10 platforms are expected to generate production of 27.8 million vehicles, according to IHS Automotive, a consulting firm based in suburban Detroit. That's up from 19.2 million units this year.
As fuel economy standards grow more stringent, automakers are turning to aluminum and other lightweight materials and more complex manufacturing methods to meet their goals. And they have turned to Comau Inc., a subsidiary of Fiat S.p.A., to make their designs buildable.
NSK Ltd., a Japanese auto supplier best known for its ball bearings, sees a big future in electric power steering as carmakers rush to boost fuel economy. But its engineers are avoiding steer-by-wire technology now coming to market.
To compete in the hotly contested market for engineering services, Austrian supplier Magna Steyr is heading in new directions. Karl-Friedrich Stracke, head of contract manufacturing and engineering at the unit of Magna International Inc., is betting on targeted acquisitions and growth in China.
Time was, any vehicle worth its mettle was a lumbering construct of solid steel welded together by fiery robots. But increasingly, today's cars are being held together in ways other than hot-fused metal. Tape is the new go-to bonding agent.
Many of the cars on sale today carry as many cameras as a cluster of paparazzi, pointing five or more lenses at lane lines and blind spots to assist drivers. The next step, experts say, could be cameras that observe the driver instead of the road.