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Metal Casting Technologies : March 2009
TECHNOLOGY FEATURE The metal casting industry is a major player in the auto industry by supplying auto components. With the present global fi nancial melt down, innovating companies are rapidly seeing this as an opportunity to combine “green technologies” with what will clearly become a new world of car technologies. It won’t be immediate but despite the fi nancial tensions in the world auto marketplace, it is inexorably moving into the green technology era. The features which follow provide a taste of the overarching possible future of the new world of automobiles. Automobiles NewWorldOF THE Motor vehicle technology - signs of the future E By Ralph Tobias normous amounts of activity are underway in the current international motor vehicle scene which will affect the roles and directions of the support industries involved in metals casting. World wide activity can be broadly divided into three mainstreams; activities aimed at improving the performance and fuel economy of vehicles using hydrocarbon fuels, hybrid electric/petrol vehicles and totally electrically powered vehicles. New models representing all three mainstreams are now rapidly entering the marketplace. The three mainstreams represent threats and opportunities for the vehicle manufacturing support industries in general and the metal casting industries in particular. Substantial technology development is focused on improvement of performance and fuel economy. The development is being undertaken against a background of falling vehicle sales with consequent reductions of manufacturing workforces. Rationalizations are emerging with 18 www.metals.rala.com.au major vehicle components by the sharing of major vehicle components and manufacturing partnerships. An example is an equal parts joint venture plant in Asan by Magna Powertrain and WIA to set up to supply several auto companies. These activities should be viewed in the overall perspective of various government policies and support programs aimed at accelerating the availability of ‘green’ cars with major emphasis on electric vehicles and the support infrastructure to provide national, convenient charging capabilities. President Obama’s recently approved economic stimulus package includes support for activities which will reduce the US reliance on imported oil, providing $7000 incentives to purchasers of ‘green, cars. This will be a major inducement for the local vehicle manufacturers to put greater R&D effort into achieving the President’s objectives. There are of course major R&D efforts underway in Europe and Asia to try to place their vehicle industries in a competitive position.