A team of engineers at Aptiv perfects the technology to replace the copper wires of a Volkswagen van with aluminum wires.
Do you care?
Yes. You do.
The auto industry is erupting with innovations that are making vehicles lighter, smarter, safer and — have no doubt — better. And all that work is racing to new-car showrooms in every town in the world.
Last week, Automotive News gave out 15 PACE Awards to 14 companies for developing new technologies and products and, just as important, getting them to market. The PACE Awards are to engineers and manufacturing managers and supplier executives the equivalent of the Academy Awards' Oscars.
But admittedly, to some people who are busy in far flung corners of the car business — a Toyota used-car manager in Arizona or a finance company rep in Boston — the Automotive News PACE Awards might seem like a faraway event. And to be sure, when customers are sitting in the showroom mulling over whether to buy there or take their checkbooks across the street, the achievement of a seal manufacturer's engineering team sounds as remote as the dark side of the moon.
But don't kid yourself.
What happened in the engineering labs of Bosch, Cooper Standard, Visteon, Toyoda Gosei and the other 2018 PACE awardees is already rippling across the world industry. Aptiv's aluminum wires — once thought to be a non-starter in auto manufacturing — will help make vehicles more fuel efficient by making them lighter, because cars and trucks are stuffed with ridiculous amounts of wiring. But of more immediate note, aluminum cables are a solution to corrosion issues. Less corrosion, hidden deep in the bowels of a vehicle, means fewer chances of performance problems. Fewer performance glitches means fewer customer complaints. A service technician will not have to spend a morning crawling around looking for a corroded electrical connection, and a brand manager will see improved warranty numbers and a higher J.D. Power satisfaction score.
That's what the PACE Awards are all about.
It's not just tech — it's a better vehicle in a consumer's driveway.