Autofield Blog

How to Save Energy

By: Gary S. Vasilash 2. November 2015

Which type of automotive factory uses the most amount of energy?

· Stamping

· Parts facilities

· Foundries

· Machining operations

· Assembly plants

If you selected “Assembly plants,” then you know your energy usage.

In fact, according to GM, assembly plants use 69% of the total energy used by all five categories. Machining comes in second at just 15%.

Automotive plants can be big consumers of energy. Thanks to its 20-year partnership with EPA ENERGY STAR®, General Motors has found a number of ways to reduce the energy intensity of its facilities.

GM has been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program to find the ways and means to reduce energy use at its plants. And it has done a good job over the years, based on its performance in the ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry.

It has 73 plants that met the challenge by reducing energy use by at least 10% within five years or less.

Notably, in the 20 years that GM has partnered with ENERGY STAR, it has reduced energy intensity by 40% and carbon dioxide emissions by 41% and saved $435-million in energy costs—all while increasing production.

This year, three plants met the challenge for the first time: Baltimore Operations, Rochester Operations and Spring Hill Assembly.

And what’s interesting is that what they did in the plants is arguably common sense (and the sorts of things that one could do at an office or home).

Rochester Operations met the Challenge for Industry by reducing energy intensity by 29 percent. The plant added high-efficiency, motion-controlled lighting and implemented a “Shut It Off” campaign, reminding employees to turn off energy-hogging equipment not in use.

At GM Rochester: When you aren’t using equipment, Shut It Off

For example, at Spring Hill reduced energy intensity by 33% over just two years by installing variable-frequency drives for pumps and fans as well as fluorescent lighting and LED fixtures.

At GM Rochester they reduced energy intensity by 29% through upgrading heating units, reducing compressed air pressure, adding motion-controlled lighting, installing energy-efficient windows, deploying manufacturing equipment with high-efficiency motors and variable-speed drives, and shutting things off.

“’Shut It Off’ became a catchphrase throughout the plant,” said Bob Randazzo, Rochester Operations site utilities manager.

Who knows? Maybe “Don’t Be Fuelish” might make a return from 1974.

2016 Camaro on the Road

By: Gary S. Vasilash 30. October 2015

There is a lot you can learn about the success of a vehicle design in the market by simply driving the vehicle that you’re interested in learning about. One of the things that you simply need to do is to be aware of the reaction of other drivers when you’re behind the wheel of something new. (Of course, this requires that what you’re interested in learning about has been completely—or almost completely—finished, which may be too late.)

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

If they are oblivious to what you’re driving—and let’s face it, most people are more interested in what they’re doing behind the wheel of their own car (one hopes that it is driving, but too often it is driving and something else)—then it might not be so good for said vehicle.

But if they look and let you know they’re looking: That’s good.

Case in point was a drive down I-95 from Raleigh to Orlando as part of what Chevy is calling its #FindNewRoads program for the 2016 Camaro, which is meant to get the car in all the states of the Lower 48.

I had a BMW X6 roll up quickly behind me at one point, so I moved out of the left lane and into the right. Oddly, the X6 didn’t go blasting beyond me but pulled alongside and stayed there. I glanced over.

And got a point to the Camaro and got a thumbs-up.

Then he blasted by.

Next, it was a guy in a Hyundai Genesis 2.0T Coupe. Now it strikes me that about the only things that the Hyundai and Chevy have in common are two doors and powerful engines under the hood. I was in a car with a 3.6-liter V6, which is said to have the highest specific output of any car in its segment, 335 hp and 284 lb-ft. It also has cylinder deactivation, so I averaged 29.1 mpg over what was, admittedly, mainly highway driving, but a chunk of trying to find a parking place in Savannah.

Yet there it was: a thumbs-up.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

I pulled into a gas station and when I came out of the station’s store I saw I guy who was walking around the back of the Camaro with a look of admiration on his face. On the other side of the island was a massive RV with Massachusetts plates. “That’s one good-looking machine,” he said.

One of the things that is clearly clicking at General Motors is design. This sixth-generation Camaro is a clear predecessor of gen five, but designer Hawsup Lee went beyond that and nailed what is its own design.

While this is still a muscle car in presence, it is one that is of our time, not a historic anomaly.

#FindNewRoads will clearly FindNewCustomers.

Chevy to the Max

By: Gary S. Vasilash 30. October 2015

“These are the cars I would like to drive.”

So says Todd Parker, director of Design, Global Chevrolet, of the vehicles in the Chevy Red Line Series, concepts that the company will be displaying at this year’s SEMA.

He says that the designs are all about “Takin’ it to the max.”

Across the board the vehicles have Enhanced Silver Metallic exteriors, a custom Charcoal roof panel, and Satin Graphite and red accents.

Trax Red Line Series concept

Trax Red Line: Also included are 18-in. wheels with custom accents, black bowtie kid and roof mounts by Thule.

Malibu Red Line Series concept

Malibu Red Line: Also included are a Chevrolet Performance concept suspension lowering kid, 19-in. wheels, tinted taillamp lenses and windows.

Camaro Red Line Series concept

Camaro Red Line: Also included are 20-in. wheels in Satin Graphite with red accents, Camaro nameplates in gloss black with red accent, air intake kit, and red upper and lower grille inserts.

Colorado Red Line Series concept

Colorado Red Line: Also included are Goodyear Wrangler Fortitude tiers on 18-in. wheels, nameplates in gloss black with red accent, GearOn bike rack by Thule.

Silverado 1500 Red Line Series concept

Silverado Red Line: Z71 bedside graphics and Silverado nameplates in black with red accents, red tow hooks, 22-in. wheels, black-chrome exhaust tip, Brembo front brake kit.

A Machine for Driving In

By: Gary S. Vasilash 29. October 2015

Le Corbusier, the Swiss/French architect and city planner (1887-1965; he’s the guy who wrote “A house is a machine for living in”), was a big proponent of the automobile. And he understood that the industry that was growing during his middle years would require the transformation of cities, especially given that roads were designed primarily, especially in Europe, of modes of transport that weren’t powered by internal combustion engines. He saw how companies in the industry were changing the means and modes of production to create cars.

Renault 1

As Antonio Amado quotes his in Voiture Minimum: Le Corbusier and the Automobile (The MIT Press, 2011), “The automobile is an object with a simple function (to run) and complex ends (comfort, resistance, looks) that has placed major industry under an imperious necessity to standardize. . .through the relentless competition of the countless firms that build them, each has found itself under the obligation to dominate the competition, and, on top of the standard for realized practical things, there has intervened a search for perfection and harmony outside of brute practical fact, a manifestation not only of perfection and harmony, but of beauty.”

Renault 2

In France there is a celebration of Le Corbusier at the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, “Des voitures à habiter: automobile et modernisme XXe-XXIe siècles” (“Cars for living: the automobile and modernism in the 20th and 21st centuries”) at the Villa Savoye in Poissy running through March 20, 2016.

For this exhibition, Groupe Renault design teams developed a concept car, finding inspiration in the 1930s, considered by some as the “golden age” of the automobile.

The vehicle is called the “Coupe Corbusier.”

Caterham DIY

By: Gary S. Vasilash 28. October 2015

If you had a chance to visit the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this past January, you may have seen the Local Motors stand, where they were 3D printing a full-size car. Such technology is in keeping with the remarkable advances being made in the Motor City, where the whole notion of Rust Belt is being overshadowed by Automation Alley.

If you have a chance to be in London this Saturday, the 31st, you might want to check out the Regent Street Motor Show.

Where things are much more, ah, reserved than they are in Detroit.

Case in point: the Caterham Cars display.

Like the Local Motors stand in Detroit, a car will be built there, too.

Regents Street

However, this will be a Caterham Seven being built from boxes full of parts.

Four technicians will be building the car in an estimated six hours.

It’s worth noting that the existence of Caterham Cars is predicated on the DIY approach. It was established in 1973, with the design of a Lotus Seven from the 1950s, to produce two-seat sports cars—or provide the pieces that someone could put together to end up with one.

“The idea behind building a car at the Show is to demonstrate how uncomplicated it is to build a Caterham—although we don’t expect every customer to complete the job in a mere six hours,” said Ian Rea, Marketing and Communications Manager, Caterham Cars.

Caterham Seven 160

Indeed, not.

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