DENSO invests $1 billion in US automotive manufacturing to produce the future of mobility

DENSO invests $1 billion in US automotive manufacturing to produce the future of mobility

DENSO, the automotive technology, systems and components supplier, is expanding its US footprint with a $1 billion investment in its Maryville, Tennessee location.

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The investment is part of DENSO's commitment to advancing automotive innovation in North America, and will significantly increase the role North America plays in the global trend toward vehicle safety and electrification.

DENSO will create more than 1,000 jobs in Maryville, Tennessee to make it a primary manufacturing center in North America for electrification and safety systems. Globally, DENSO is a leading developer of electrification systems for environmentally-friendly automobiles, sophisticated functions involved in vehicle safety and security, and new services that connect vehicles and society. These systems will play a crucial role in meeting increasing electric vehicle demand.

"This is an investment in the future of DENSO, and also the future of transportation. We are seeing dramatic shifts in the role of transportation in society, and this investment will help position us to meet those changing demands," said Kenichiro Ito, chairman of DENSO's North America Board of Directors and chief executive officer of DENSO International America.

Investment details

DENSO's $1 billion investment will create about 1,000 new production and support jobs, including technicians and engineers. The investment will also expand multiple production lines to produce advanced safety, connectivity, and electrification products for hybrid and electric vehicles. These new products will radically improve fuel efficiency and preserve electric power by recovering and recycling energy, and by connecting all systems and products inside the vehicles. DENSO's products will create the highest efficiency for a whole vehicle by anticipating the road environment via collaboration with information outside the car and using data to enhance performance of electrified products.

DENSO announced a $400 million investment in Maryville in 2015, adding 500 jobs and consolidating various warehouse operations into one central location. The company broke ground on the facility in July 2016.

The $1 billion investment in Maryville is the latest in a line of strategic investments in North America for DENSO. The company recently invested $75.5 million in its Southfield, Michigan headquarters and Dublin, Ohio facilities.

Autoneum, Nittoku and Toyota Boshoku establish JV for R&D

Autoneum, Nittoku and Toyota Boshoku establish JV for R&D

Three automobile suppliers: Autoneum, Nittoku and Toyota Boshoku are expanding their existing collaboration through joint research and development activities in vehicle acoustics by means of a joint venture.

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As of 2018, the initial customer Toyota will benefit from this bundling of acoustics expertise in pre-development studies as well as through innovative components for optimised vehicle acoustics.

The collaboration, which is subject to approval by regulatory authorities, is expected to begin in January 2018. By means of the joint venture acoustic studies for Toyota Motor Corporation and other automotive related companies will be conducted in Japan under the scientific lead of Autoneum.

In future, customers will benefit from the expertise of the Swiss innovation leader and its Japanese partners both in the pre-development of vehicle models with NV benchmarking (noise, vibration) and subsequently in the vehicle development with the computer-aided design of customised acoustics systems. In order to guarantee the highest standards, measurement systems and simulation software developed by Autoneum will be deployed at the acoustic centre located at Toyota Boshoku in Japan.

For more than 50 years, Autoneum and Nittoku have cooperated successfully in the global supply of Japanese OEMs with innovative and lightweight components for acoustic and thermal management. Together they operate seven joint ventures worldwide. The future acoustics development for Toyota together with Toyota Boshoku, a leading producer of interior systems, will serve to further expand the collaboration of the three automobile suppliers in the field of vehicle interior systems that has been in place since 2012.

(pictured left to right: Yoshimasa Ishii, President Toyota Boshoku, Martin Hirzel, CEO Autoneum and Makio Sakai, President & COO Nittoku)

GST Seton Autoleather supplier files for relief under Chapter 11

GST Seton Autoleather supplier files for relief under Chapter 11

GST AutoLeather, Inc. announced on October 4 that it has filed a voluntary petition for relief under chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

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The Company has obtained a commitment from its senior secured lenders for a $40 million debtor-in-possession facility, the proceeds of which will be used to fund ongoing business operations. This facility will allow GST to continue business as usual during the reorganisation process, while pursuing a court-supervised going concern sale, commonly referred to as a "363 Sale".

Chief Executive Officer Dennis Hiller said, "After working with our advisors to review a range of strategic alternatives, the proposed strategy represents the best solution to ensure continuity of supply to our customers, maximise value for all stakeholders and position the Company for long-term success." Mr. Hiller went on to say, "I would especially like to thank our customers, suppliers, employees and Senior Lenders for supporting us through this time as we work to improve our capital structure and enhance value."

The Company and its Senior Lenders are negotiating the terms of an acquisition of the Company by its Senior Lenders. This would serve as a backstop in the "363 Sale" and will pave the path for the Company to exit chapter 11 and maintain the business as a going concern.

Novares unveils a new extensively robotised paint plant in France

Novares unveils a new extensively robotised paint plant in France

Novares has officially opened a new painting unit in Sainte Marguerite.

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Novares (formerly Mecaplast – Key Plastics) has invested €8.5 million ($10 million) on a 600 sq-metre extension to further service six major customers in the region: PSA, Fiat, Volvo, Daimler, Opel and Renault.

The new painting line is equipped with the latest technologies and robotics to produce a variety of complex shapes for exterior parts such as spoilers, door protectors, door handles, front grills as well as for interior parts such as IP components and central consoles. The new paint shop comprises six robotised cabins (pictured) that manage a fully automated system (cleaning, surface treatment and painting) each with its own process monitoring and overall management.

The process, designed for solvent borne paint, has been developed to meet the EU legislation standards regarding the emissions of VOCs (Volatile Organic Components). This process minimises energy consumption and can be stabilised to whatever outside weather conditions may be. In addition, Novares' painting line anticipates the standards to come and is equipped with the latest generation electrostatic gun technology which enables 3D parts painting.

"At Sainte Marguerite, we are producing references for the new Sedan and DS range for PSA. We are proud of our new painting line which uses the latest technologies in the market today" said Pierre Boulet, Novares, CEO.

Novares employs 139 people at Sainte Marguerite and estimates a turnover of €32 million by end 2017. This equates to approximately 5.9 million parts sold and 2,200 tons of plastic raw material transformed on average per year for the plant.

Novares produces innovative automotive parts and specialises in plastic injection and moulding. The Group is one of the largest global plastic solution suppliers today that serve car manufacturers worldwide.

Mecaplast – Key Plastics rebranded as Novares on 19 September 2017.

New anode in Toshiba SCiB battery provides 200 miles of range with a 6-minute charge

New anode in Toshiba SCiB battery provides 200 miles of range with a 6-minute charge

Toshiba has developed a titanium niobium oxide anode material that it says will double lithium storage by volume of the graphite-based anodes used in lithium-ion batteries today.

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Toshiba launched the SCiB as a safe, long-life, fast charging lithium-ion battery in 2008. Since then, the company has constantly refined the technology and improved real-world performance. For its next-generation SCiB, Toshiba has developed a titanium niobium oxide anode material (LTO) that has double the lithium storage capacity by volume of the graphite-based anodes generally used in lithium-ion batteries.

The new battery also offers high energy density and ultra-rapid recharging characteristics, and its titanium niobium oxide anode is much less likely to experience lithium metal deposition during ultra-rapid recharging or recharging in cold conditions—a cause of battery degradation and internal short circuiting.

Toshiba's current SCiB employs an LTO anode, and is known for excellent operating characteristics in respect of safety, long life and rapid charging. It has found wide use in vehicles and industrial and infrastructure applications, including automobiles, buses, railroad cars, elevators and power plants. The high energy density of the battery, and its rapid recharging, have made important contributions to enhancing the convenience and promoting the spread of EV.

Building on this heritage, Toshiba has developed a proprietary method for synthesising and disarranging crystals of titanium niobium oxide and storing lithium ions more efficiently in the crystal structure. The anode of the next-generation SCiB realised through this approach has double times the capacity of the anode of current lithium-ion batteries.

Dr. Osamu Hori, Director of Corporate Research & Development Center at Toshiba Corporation said: "Rather than an incremental improvement, this is a game changing advance that will make a significant difference to the range and performance of EV. We will continue to improve the battery's performance and aim to put the next-generation SCiB into practical application in fiscal year 2019."

Rigorous testing of a 50 Ah prototype of the new battery has confirmed that it retains the long life cycle, low-temperature operation, excellent safety and rapid recharging characteristics of the current SCiB. The energy density by volume of battery is twice that of the current SCiB. The next-generation SCiB maintains over 90% of its initial capacity after being put through 5,000 charge/discharge cycles, and ultra-rapid recharging can be done in cold conditions, with temperatures as low as minus 10 degrees C, in only ten minutes.

Toshiba will continue to develop higher energy density batteries that extend the range of EVs and support ultra-rapid recharging, and aims to commercialise the next-generation SCiB in fiscal year 2019.

Part of the research work on the next-generation SCiB was subsidised by Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO).

Vredestein makes strong Euro contribution to Apollo Tyres' global progress

Vredestein makes strong Euro contribution to Apollo Tyres' global progress

Apollo Vredestein, the premium European brand of Apollo Tyres, has played a significant part, over the last six years, in the latter's European growth at 10-11%, twice the segment's rate.

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Ambitious expansion plans pushed tyre manufacturer Apollo to be the first Indian tyre company to look outside of India with its first acquisition in 2006 and Dutch brand Vredestein became part of Apollo in 2009, spearheading its European presence.

The supplier's Netherlands-based factory is joined by a new (2017) Hungary facility as manufacturing is increased from five to seven million tyres a year in the initial production phase.

UK Country Manager Karl Naylor (pictured) said: "Since my arrival here just over a year ago it's been easy to see the pace of change within the organisation, the level of ambition and the investments being made to achieve significant growth in the European market. These are the downstream results of Apollo Tyres' global strategy."

Vredestein's presence largely contributes to its parent company's 2.6-2.7% market share and 8-9% growth in the European aftermarket sector; it will add further impetus now that the premium tyre range has also been chosen as OE fitment to select VW Group passenger vehicles. Naylor added: "As well as the Hungary factory going live and Vredestein becoming an OE brand, numerous other areas of infrastructure within the business have seen investment for the immediate and long-term future, all of which will have an impact on UK operations where, as much as any other European country, we are challenged with a flat, mature and oversaturated market."

Having market-leading product quality and performance, being able to manufacture efficiently and deliver tyres to markets at competitive prices, working as business partners with distributors in all sales channels to ensure product accessibility, and establishing compelling marketing arguments about Apollo Vredestein to attract targeted consumers are all, according to Naylor, "a significant but attainable challenge, with the necessary investments being available, and the right strategic approach at all levels – global, European and country."

New GKN UK Innovation Centre to fast-track next-generation EV tech

New GKN UK Innovation Centre to fast-track next-generation EV tech

GKN has opened a new UK Innovation Centre for its automotive division, which will focus on developing state-of-the-art vehicle technologies and systems.

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The centre, in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, will use GKN's expertise in electrified drivelines, lightweight structures, composite materials and additive manufacturing to create a range of new technologies for next-generation vehicles.

Central to GKN's recently-announced Official Partnership with the Panasonic Jaguar Racing Formula E team, the UK Innovation Centre will also lead on delivering new components and technologies for the Jaguar Formula E electric race car. GKN has already delivered its first parts for the I-TYPE 2 in the form of custom-built fluid ports made from laser-sintered steel.

The new fluid ports demonstrate GKN's expertise in additive manufacturing, which can deliver parts that are more durable, have more geometric freedom of design, and are much faster to build. A key area of R&D for future automotive applications is 3D-printed titanium, in which GKN is already a world leader thanks its cutting-edge aerospace division.

"Our new UK Innovation Centre will develop an array of next-generation technologies that will deliver significant benefits to electric vehicle, motorsport and off-highway applications," said CEO of GKN Driveline, Phil Swash. "For electrified systems in particular, GKN's expertise will help automakers to develop lighter, quieter and more efficient vehicles. No other company can apply aerospace experience to automotive applications in the same way as GKN, unlocking exciting opportunities for additive manufacturing and composites."
He added: "I'm particularly pleased to launch this R&D facility in the UK. GKN is a global business but is proud of its UK roots; we are headquartered here, listed here and our Divisions manufacture from 14 sites across the UK. This facility complements our global network and we are excited to start developing the automotive technologies of the future here in Abingdon."

Composite materials

On display at the launch of GKN's UK Innovation Centre were a range of advanced composite driveline elements, as well as a live demonstration of carbon fibre driveshaft manufacturing. These composite shafts deliver significant weight reduction and efficiency gains for both electric vehicle and motorsport applications. Furthermore, GKN's whole-system expertise means it will be uniquely able to deliver carbon fibre driveline systems with optimum integration between shafts and constant velocity joints.

Two-speed TorqueShift powertrain

GKN is the global leader in two-speed electric vehicle systems. It has developed the only two-speed eTransmission currently in production – for the BMW i8 hybrid supercar – and revealed the world's first fully-electric drive system with two-speed gearing and Twinster torque vectoring technology at the Frankfurt Motor Show – eTwinsterX.

At the UK Innovation Centre, GKN is honing a new 'TorqueShift' system for electric vehicles. Two-speed systems can deliver more 'miles per kilowatt' than conventional eDrive systems, but GKN is focused on developing the same seamless 'dual-clutch feel' experience for electric car drivers.

The biggest challenge in delivering a seamless shift in an electric powertrain is the software control. GKN's engineers have developed a highly-sophisticated system for the TorqueShift demonstrator, which is able to master the high torsional stiffness, high inertia and high step ratio from the system.

Electric motors and flywheels

Flywheel technology from GKN has helped to power hybrid vehicles to victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The UK Innovation Centre is now developing a new prototype energy storage unit, which will have significantly larger capacity at lower cost than its previous-generation flywheel systems.

This new flywheel technology has been designed specifically with commercial vehicles and off-highway applications in mind, delivering useful electric-driving capability without the higher cost of a plug-in hybrid or fully-electric system. Flywheel systems provide an energy boost in peak-load scenarios, so combustion engines can be downsized for greater efficiency.

GKN's Official Partnership with Panasonic Jaguar Racing was announced at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. The UK Innovation Centre will deliver technical consultancy and new technologies, including lightweight driveshafts, efficient differentials and custom-built parts using additive manufacturing. GKN's considerable experience in delivering state-of-the-art electric vehicle systems means it will also advise on the development of the I-TYPE 2's all-electric powertrain.

High-growth tech firm invests close to Nissan in Sunderland UK

High-growth tech firm invests close to Nissan in Sunderland UK

Fast-growing technology business AR Controls has completed a £600,000 ($795,000) expansion to a new factory in Sunderland, enabling it to create jobs and win further contracts with global manufacturers.

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The company supplies control panels and electrical design, inspection and testing services to major manufacturers, including Nissan, Gestamp, Caterpillar, Mecaplast and Faltec. 75% of its work is currently with the automotive sector.

A growing number of customers in manufacturing and heavy industry means that AR aims to diversify across sectors and into worldwide markets as it expands.

Major projects have been completed recently for Knauf Insulation UK, Peterlee and Polypipe in Doncaster. AR Controls designed, built, programmed and installed innovative systems for both companies. In the automotive sector, it completed £500,000 of system upgrade projects at Nissan Sunderland during the two-week summer shutdown, with a faultless start up when production began.

AR Controls has invested in cutting edge equipment to cater for growing demand for its robotic, automation, motor drive and gearbox upgrade design and installation services.

The firm designs and develops equipment used in manufacturing and engineering, including control panels, machine safety systems, conveyors and software systems. It was founded by Andrew Ramsey (pictured above at right, with Cllr Harry Trueman of Sunderland City Council), who previously spent over 20 years working in the automotive industry. He said: "We offer robust competencies in highly complex solutions, which means our services are regularly in high demand.
"Our move will enable us to broaden our offering with more involvement in mechanical design. We are also installing a new robotic demonstration system in our workshop to test and implement new customer applications.

"We really appreciate the advice and support from Sunderland's business investment team. It's good to have them alongside as we grow."

The company was launched in 2013 and has since grown its annual turnover rapidly from scratch to an estimated £1.3 million this financial year. To facilitate further expansion, the group has invested £600,000 in acquiring a new HQ on Sunderland's Sunrise Enterprise Park, consolidating its two sites in the city.

The move was supported by Sunderland City Council's Business Investment Team, which helped to identify a site suitable for its growth plans. It will enable it to increase its headcount by a third to around 30 in the next two years and service a growing customer base.

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: "AR Controls' decision to expand its presence in Sunderland and create new jobs is indicative of the city's growing reputation as a world class location for manufacturing and engineering. It strengthens the city's knowledge economy eco-system which is attracting high skilled jobs and investment from thriving companies.

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