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Toyota Hiring 100s of Engineers, Designers

Will focus on Detroit area, but also opening new Silicon Valley tech center.

by on Apr.05, 2012

Engineered in Detroit - the 2013 Toyota Avalon.

Toyota plans to hire about 250 engineers to help it continue a shift from global to localized product development. The bulk of those new employees will be based out of the maker’s new R&D center in suburban Detroit, but it will also open a new high-tech facility in Silicon Valley.

The move reflects the significant shift in Toyota’s whole management structure.  It has traditionally operated as a global monolith but is giving increasing autonomy to major regional operations, especially those in the U.S., the maker’s largest market.

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The shift is underscored by the launch, this week, of the 2013 Toyota Avalon at the New York Auto Show.  The flagship sedan was developed entirely in the States, largely in the Motor City, with additional styling at CALTY, the advanced Toyota design center in Southern California.

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Ford Planning to Slash Vehicle Weight Up to 700 lbs

Trimming mass a key to meeting future fuel economy goals.

by on Apr.19, 2011

Ford products - big and small - will be going on a diet, with a goal of cutting weight by as much as 700 pounds.

Ford Motor Co. plans to put its product line on a diet.  The maker expects to trim 100s of pounds off the weight of its cars, trucks and crossovers over the next half-decade in a bid to dramatically improve fuel economy.

The move won’t be easy, Ford officials warn.  The cuts will come even as consumers demand more content and features – and regulators pack on more safety devices.  And the lighter substitutes for conventional  materials, like steel, could add to vehicle cost.

“In the mid-term, from now to 2017 or 2018, we’ll remove anywhere from 250 to 700 pounds depending on the vehicle,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s global product chief.

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The move attempts to reverse course for Ford, which has faced the same dilemma as its competitors.  The typical automobile is today hundreds of pounds heavier than a similar model of a decade ago.  That reflects the addition of such creature comforts as onboard navigation systems, 15-speak audio packages and heated leather seats – as well as airbags, advanced braking systems and the complex safety structures required of modern cars.

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Automakers Find Way to Race Products to Market

New car design method wins engineering innovation prize.

by on Dec.23, 2009

A new software system, dubbed ACP, should help speed up vehicle development time - and lower costs.

Among other imperatives, like improving fuel economy, automakers are under pressure to develop products faster, and at lower cost. An engineering firm thinks it has found a new way to achieve those goals, and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Enterprise Forum (MITEF) agree.

At a recent dinner meeting SAE and MITEF selected Troy, Michigan-based Engineering Technology Associates (ETA) as a winner in this year’s Innovation Accelerator Competition.

(Judges also awarded a prize to a Massachusetts start-up that is working to make batteries last longer. The winners gain consulting time with industry gurus who will help them bring their technology to market sooner than otherwise possible.)

Tools!

Time-to-market is a critical metric for automakers mired in an ongoing sales slump made worse by the intense pressure to innovate in order to differentiate despite resource limitations. They cannot survive without sophisticated software tools – and combinations of tools – designed to save time, lower cost, and make it possible to try out many different concepts without having to actually build any of them.

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