Everyone loves the thrill of a low-odds bet paying off – the long bomb finding a receiver in the end zone, the three-point buzzer-beater from mid court, or the band that defies its label’s advice and records a rock opera instead of shorter songs.
That notion of risking it all in hopes of a big payoff might make for great movies. But ask for advice from a former executive who’s living in a jail cell or suffering from a forced early retirement, and you’ll likely hear the benefits of playing it safe.
Nobody’s ever been fired for hiring IBM.
That risk aversion gives many business planners an inherently negative bias when forecasting economic growth and product demand. Decisions stemming from forecasts often make the difference between investing in new people and equipment or shutting down production of moderately successful products. Executives are less likely to be punished for guessing low than guessing high.
Buying new equipment that goes unused is an easy mistake to spot. CEOs notice big capital outlays, and continuing finance charges can be a constant reminder that excess optimism can generate red ink.
It’s much harder to spot the evidence of under-investing. Companies that minimize spending and grow at the same rate as the general economy can appear successful for years – until suddenly they aren’t. Shops can do more with less for a while, but eventually, lack of investing saps production growth and increases structural costs.
This issue focuses on upcoming trends in 2020 and hopefully provides some guidance and data to set expectations for the year. Several large organizations predict auto sales will fall this year, making the cautious hold back on investments and wait for clear signs that conditions are improving.
For today’s auto industry that’s problematic for two reasons – predictions for sales to fall to less than 17 million have been constant for three years and wrong every time so far (see editor’s take on 2020, page 20). Even if they’re right, radical change overtaking the industry demands investment to prepare for that transformation.
Tesla was the fastest growing automaker in 2019, growing sales by about 50%. With global capacity increasing with a new plant opened in China and another underway in Germany, expect 2020 and 2021 to be strong as well. Other producers of electric vehicles (EVs) haven’t fared as well (see infographic, page 16-17), but more vehicles are coming from more automakers (see electric drive, page 24-25). In addition, hybrid powertrains are becoming mainstream with many companies pledging to have electrified options on most vehicles within the next five years.
So, playing it safe is getting riskier. Avoiding capital or research spending to boost the bottom line will almost certainly lead to slower growth and missed opportunities in coming years.
While companies must use common sense to determine how much to spend on the future, this may be the one time in history where betting on the long shot looks like the safest play.
The Additive Manufacturing (AM) option for hyperMill computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software supports 3D printing/additive processes including hybrid processing with simultaneous additive and subtractive processing on one machine.
The hyperMill Additive feature provides flexible options for directed energy deposition processes (DED) and wire arc AM (WAAM). Laser-based powder nozzle machining heads and WAAM can be controlled using hyperMill Additive for selective material deposition, supporting convenient programming and automatic simulation for collision avoidance.
The module allows users to program AM cladding and milling together. True-to-detail additive and subtractive simulation as well as stock tracking between the individual process steps guarantee reliability.
Key additive applications include repair of damaged components, cladding of additional surface skins, or creation of new components from a substrate. This also creates new options for combining different materials, such as when high-quality material layers must be applied to carrier materials.
Open Mind Technologies https://www.openmind-tech.com/ en-gb/cam/additive-manufacturing.html
High-speed, wireless data that connect vehicles to each other will likely be part of 5G cellular wireless technology rollout throughout the next several years, forcing regulators and researchers to determine how to share crowded data airways.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in late December 2019, froze applications for 20MHz of the 5.9GHz wireless spectrum to better understand how to allocate the 5,850MHz-to-5,895MHz and 5,905MHz-to-5,925MHz bands. Regulators reserve that portion of the spectrum for data connections to and from vehicles, but FCC members say it’s unclear how best to assign that space.
Dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), a technology under development for nearly 20 years, uses one-way or two-way short-range to medium-range wireless channels to allow vehicles to set up simple, ad-hoc networks with nearby vehicles. Automakers and safety advocates have long advocated data sharing between vehicles to provide information for safety systems. Simple proximity alerts, for example, could warn a car that it’s about to collide with another before a camera-based system might detect the problem.
Cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) is a competing standard that uses cellular networks to pass information between vehicles.
Ensuring that the competing technologies play nice when using adjacent bandwidth is critical, so the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) is partnering with the 5G Automotive Association trade group to simultaneously test deployment of C-V2X and DSRC in the Ann Arbor Connected Environment (AACE). AACE covers 27 square miles of the city, providing a testing environment for several connected vehicle technologies.
“It is important to demonstrate that C-V2X and DSRC can occupy adjacent channels in a real-world environment, but equally important to continue to illustrate how connected vehicle technology can prevent crashes, save lives, and alleviate congestion,” says UMTRI Director Jim Sayer.
The AACE has already deployed vehicle-to-everything (V2X) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) applications including forward collision warning, emergency electronic brake light, emergency vehicle approach, intersection movement assist, curve speed warning, ice warning, red-light violation warning, and pedestrian in crosswalk warnings.
As automakers and technology companies pursue autonomous driving projects, transmitting high-quality data to warn vehicles about upcoming hazards becomes critical. Guaranteeing a safe, reliable communications channel is a key step in that process.
“Once we demonstrate that CV2X and DSRC can coexist on a large scale, the next step is to develop deployment strategies for managing evolving, lifesaving V2X technologies. At UMTRI, we purport that connected vehicle technology will be a stepping-stone to commercialization of automated vehicles,” says Debby Bezzina. AACE program manager.
U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) https://www.fcc.gov
University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute http://www.umtri.umich.edu
About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of TMV. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216.393.0271.
More than a year after his arrest for several alleged financial abuses at the automaker, former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn fled the island nation in a packing crate normally used for audio equipment, fleeing to his parents’ home country, Lebanon, at the end of December.
While out of jail on a $15 million bond in Japan (which he will forfeit), Ghosn was being monitored by local police, but officials say that amounted to occasional checks of video feeds. The Brazil-born, French-educated executive had surrendered several passports, so they didn’t consider him a flight risk.
In a press conference in Lebanon following his escape, Ghosn criticized the Japanese legal system, saying he had been under arrest for more than a year, and his lawyers told him a trial wouldn’t be likely until at least 2021. During that time, he couldn’t travel or speak to family members without supervision. Ghosn’s lawyers also warned him that defending against criminal convictions in Japan is rare – prosecutor success rates are close to 99%. Ghosn has long professed his innocence, saying he was the target of a conspiracy to break up Nissan’s alliance with French automaker Renault.
Nissan officials disagree, saying, “Nissan discovered numerous acts of misconduct by Ghosn through a robust, thorough internal investigation. The company determined that he was not fit to serve as an executive and removed him from all offices.”
Most of those allegations center on under-reporting his personal income and taking advantage of company assets for personal use. Interpol has issued an arrest warrant for Ghosn, but Lebanon has no extradition treaty with Japan, leaving his ability to stay there in the hands of diplomats. https://www.nissanusa.com
GM, LG Chem building $2.3 billion battery plant in Ohio
General Motors (GM) is partnering with Korean chemicals giant LG Chem to build a $2.3 billion plant for electric vehicle (EV) batteries in Lordstown, Ohio, near the automaker’s recently shuttered Chevy Cruze plant.
“Ohio and its highly capable workforce will play a key role in our journey toward a world with zero emissions,” says GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Combining our manufacturing expertise with LG Chem’s leading battery-cell technology will help accelerate our pursuit of an all-electric future.”
The new battery plant will be a 50-50 joint venture between GM and LG, and construction is set to begin in mid-2020. The facility could employ as many as 1,000 people.
“Our joint venture with the No. 1 American automaker will further prepare us for the anticipated growth of the North American EV market, while giving us insights into the broader EV ecosystem,” says LG Chem Vice Chairman & CEO Hak-Cheol Shin.https://www.gm.com; https://www.lgchem.com