Saving Our Beloved Cars and the Automotive Industry

Once again the US automotive industry is in dire straits. It did not learn from the 1973 energy crisis. It did not learn from the Chrysler experience. It did not learn from Toyota. It continued to depend on old, worn out concepts and on CEO’s that are kept in their positions by nepotism and by boards that do not understand the automotive business.

In a joint effort the Big Three are asking the US government for a $25 billion loan. They argue that government demands for increased fuel efficiency are too expensive to implement and require huge amounts of capital for retooling.

Let’s assume for the moment that the argument has some merit. But how can companies with worldwide manufacturing facilities fail to notice the steady increase in fuel prices and not see the warning signs hoisted by governments across the world that want to limit greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption. This neglect is inexcusable.

Efforts of US and European governments to limit fuel consumption are misdirected, counterproductive, and coercive. A comprehensive analysis quickly reveals that we must indeed limit and eventually halt greenhouse gas emissions.

OPEC countries will continue their unstoppable increases of petroleum prices. Electric cars, CNG powered cars, and hydrogen powered cars cannot stop carbon dioxide emissions perceptibly and will not make our country independent of OPEC imports.

Automotive companies are critically dependent on the fickle and changing preferences of national and international markets. Industrial companies that follow political hype will be punished sooner or later. Governments are incapable of designing automobiles for the market place.

The world is relegated to using automobiles, trucks, trains, ships, and airplanes for the next century and will have to power most of them with liquid transportation fuels. We may be able to use less of them, we will be able to reduce energy consumption, we can use other forms of energy for some transportation, and we can produce petroleum substitutes from biomass. We can even produce biomass without competing with critically important food crops.

In order to minimize fuel consumption quickly, the auto industry is forced to deal with performance features. American drivers cannot avoid covering much longer distances than European or Japanese drivers. American drivers have less access to public transportation, have larger families, and drive on different types of roads. Automotive companies must listen to their customers. Toyota and Honda have been listening most successfully.

American and foreign car companies have developed a wide range of comfortable cars with a wide variety of utilitarian and luxury features. Sportive cars and SUV’s are attracting large numbers of buyers. All cars offer a wide selection of comfort and entertainment features. One major car component has received only peripheral attention; it is the much maligned internal combustion engine.

Many modern internal combustion engines are marvels of engineering. Materials, manufacturing processes, and especially peripheral components have progressed to unprecedented levels of performance and longevity. There is a last frontier that has escaped deserved attention. This is the highly energy efficient combustion engine. This is the type of engine that the automotive engine needs to develop, this is the engine that legislators should make mandatory. This is the engine that we need to use for at least one more century.

Long term the automotive industry has to develop an entirely new, advanced, internal combustion engine!

Average energy efficiency of the worlds inventory of combustion engines is somewhere in the lower mid-twenties. Energy efficiency cannot grow indefinitely. When approaching the 50% efficiency mark, it will be difficult and very expensive to increase efficiency by a single percent. Advanced automotive engines are operating in the mid-thirties. Large stationary engines are breaking the 45% mark. Large engines on trains and ships are getting above 40%. Looking at the total world inventory, we may still have a chance to nearly double energy efficiency and to cut energy consumption of present inventory in half.

We cannot reach this goal by legislating fuel consumption of cars only. We can achieve optimum energy efficiency only by reengineering the processes taking place within and around the internal combustion space.

We know that higher compression ratios will increase energy efficiency, we know how to produce high octane fuel, we know why Diesel engines are more efficient, we know how to minimize formation of pollutants. The automotive industry has developed a huge selection of sophisticated electronic components for single cylinder fuel injection, for precise controls of valve motion and ignition timing, and for reclaiming waste energy at the exhaust.

No company seems to have found the nerve to get a jump on the competition and develop the successor to the two more than century old engine concepts; the Otto and the Diesel engines.

If the US government decides to extend a $25 billion loan to the automotive industry, it should attach a few conditions. The loan needs to be secured and must take precedent over shareholder equity. The loan should stipulate that the salaries of top management are tethered to salaries of other top CEO’s like that of the US President. The obscene bonuses of yesterday should be paid only after a waiting period of at least five years; in which previously agreed upon management objectives must have been met or exceeded.

We must stop the prevalent looting of cash from US manufacturing companies by unscrupulous investors. These investors do not contribute anything of lasting value. They are excessively rewarded for ruining once healthy companies. We cannot continue to let a selected few impoverish the many and ruin our country irreparably.

Automotive Design Schools

The production of automobiles and their sale is proof enough of the demand for them. This has given rise to the growth of the automotive design schools. The candidates spend hours building and testing a machine. Many young people who want to take on the challenge of designing automotives are choosing these institutions for the career options. People who are interested in mechanics are the ones who succeed in this field.

Machine details are accurate and removing flaws is difficult. The automotive design schools make sure that the minute details are given due importance. This ensures the smooth running of the machine and also its durability. Automotives have very complex machinery, which is difficult to manufacture and maintain. If they are tampered with, the failure and can lead to accidents.

Mechanic schools are also known as automotive design schools. There are many schools that provide the training to become a mechanical designer. The course is difficult, but these schools make the curriculum easy enough for the students to learn and practice what is taught. They have laboratories in the school premises. The growth in the industry has increased the demand for automotive designers. They are being recruited by the big firms and are paid well. The job opportunities are many but getting into the right company is difficult at times. The schools provide assistance to the students to get good jobs and decent salaries.

Apart from the above advantages, the automotive design schools also assist people financially, as these courses are expensive. An application form has to be filled by the candidate, to enroll in the automotive design school for admission. The form also specifies the financial help desired. These schools provide appropriate information in all the areas of automation and educate the candidates to repair and rebuild automotive engines.

A Career in Automotive Engineering

Would you like to make “I’m a rambling wreck from Georgia Tech and a heck of an engineer” a reality in your life? Have you always enjoyed tinkering around with cars and figuring out what made stuff work? Does being a team player developing products that are the cutting edge of technology appeal to you? Then automotive engineering might be the career for you.

Generally, an automotive engineer is one who works on the design or manufacture of automobiles. The word design is slightly misleading since an automotive designer is a stylist basically concerned with the appearance of the automobile while the engineer specializes in the performance of the automobile and its components.

The engineer works on developing new or improved structural parts, engines, transmissions and suspension systems. The engineer is involved in production cost estimation, reduction of production costs and implementing cost/quality control improvements. The engineer must be sure that the product meets all federal regulations. In the case of new designs, it is the engineer who determines driveability.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Dictionary of Occupational Titles, automotive engineering is a sub-specialty of mechanical engineering.

Even though the automotive manufacturing industry is in a slump at this time, there is still a demand for engineers due to the current focus on fuel economy and alternate fueled vehicles. The field is expected to grow as fast as average through 2014.

While there are global opportunities for automotive engineers in countries as far flung as Malaysia and the United Kingdom, most jobs within the US are centered in the Midwest since that is the major location of the auto industry. The big three employers in the United States are Ford, General Motors and Daimler-Chrysler.

The working environment is a combination of office and on site. The entry-level salary starts at around $48,000 annually and a Bachelor of Science degree is required. In addition to the degree, the engineer should have excellent communication skills, strong troubleshooting skills and the ability to work as part of a team.

As with any engineering degree, the choice of a college is crucial. While all engineering colleges are selective, the better and the best are even more so.

One characteristic you need to look for in a college is the quality of instruction. Are all the classes taught by professional teachers and not graduate assistants? Do these teachers have industry connections? Is simulation and hands-on an integral part of the program?

Does the college offer internships or work study opportunities? Internships and work-study are very important as they offer a path to instant employment upon graduation. The same is true of having instructors with industry connections. It also doesn’t hurt to consider a college that offers advanced degrees in the event you decide to go further than a bachelor’s degree.

To ensure admission to the college of choice, a high school graduate should have a high GPA with a strong background in calculus, advanced math, statistics, physics, chemistry and geometry. Vocational classes in automotive mechanics are also helpful. It will also be necessary to score high on whatever college admissions test the school requires as the admissions committee will base their decision on both your high school record and admissions test scores.