Federal-Mogul produces hollow valves
Production of sodium-cooled valves with small stem diameters that reduce weight and resist high temperatures – important features in downsized engines – has begun at Federal-Mogul Powertrain.
“As vehicle manufacturers continue to pursue reduced CO2 emissions with more efficient engines that are often downsized and turbocharged, cylinder temperatures and pressures are increasing,” says Guido Bayard, director of Global Valvetrain Technology, Federal-Mogul Powertrain. “Our sodium-cooled, hollow stem valves allow the temperature of the valve heads to be reduced using a wide range of steel materials, and also enable a reduction in valvetrain mass that cuts friction.”
The hollow stem technology reduces heat flow through the valve head to around 50% of the total, by transmitting a greater share through the stem and guide, allowing the valve head to run between 80°C and 150°C cooler.
High-precision deep-hole drilling combined with friction welding enable Federal-Mogul Powertrain to produce hollow stems as small as 5mm diameter.
The technology has been established for many years in motorsports, but making it available for volume production requires the use of a single weld to close the hollow cavity.
“Hollow valve stems are both an enabling technology and a direct contributor to the reduction of CO2 emissions. By lowering the valve head temperature they allow more efficient downsizing strategies and by reducing mass they cut the energy absorbed through friction,” says Gian Maria Olivetti, chief technology officer, Federal-Mogul Powertain.
Average vehicle age growth slows
The combined average age of all light vehicles on the road in the U.S. has climbed to 11.5 years, based on a snapshot of vehicles in operation (VIO) taken Jan. 1, 2015, according to research company IHS Automotive.
Registrations for light VIO in the U.S. also reached a record level of 258 million. That’s an increase of more than 5.3 million (2.1%) since last year and the highest annual increase the auto industry has seen in the U.S. in the more than 20 years that IHS has tracked VIO growth. New vehicle registrations also outpaced scrappage by more than 42% – the highest rate seen since the statistic has been tracked. Scrappage is defined by a vehicle being taken out of the fleet and no longer in use.
“As long as we have tracked average age, it has gradually risen over time due to the increasing quality of automobiles,” says Mark Seng, global aftermarket practice leader at IHS Automotive. “For the five to six years following the recession, however, average age increased about five times its traditional rate, which we attribute to the nearly 40% drop in new vehicle sales in 2008 and 2009. We’re now seeing average age begin to plateau and return to its traditional rate of increase as consumers have recovered from the Great Recession and have begun buying new vehicles again.”
Consumers are holding on to their vehicles longer. As of Q1 2015, the average length of ownership for a new vehicle is 77.8 months, an increase of nearly 26 months since Q1 2006. For used vehicles, it is 63 months, an increase of more than 25 months (since Q1 2006).
IHS forecasts that average age is likely to hit 11.6 years in 2016 but not reach 11.7 until 2018. The rate of growth is slowing as compared to 2008-2013 due to the recovery in new vehicle sales.
Commercial truck orders decline for fourth straight month
In July, 2015, 39,400 Class 5 through Class 8 vehicle orders were booked, down 14% compared to July 2014, continuing a steady decline that started in April.
“ACT Research continues to believe the recent order decline is a reflection of meaningfully larger backlogs and tough comparable numbers from 2014, rather than any structural change in demand,” says Kenny Vieth, ACT Research president and senior analyst. “Class 8 orders were stronger than expected at 24,100 units. This was 19% above June orders. Despite the better than expected result, Class 8 orders fell 20% from July 2014. Seasonally adjusted, July’s net order volume rises to 28,900 units, the best order month on a seasonally adjusted basis since February.”
Medium-duty truck orders remained in the doldrums for a second consecutive month in July, slipping 1% month over month and 4% year over year to 15,300 units.
“Some of this decline is attributable to seasonality,” Vieth says. “When seasonally adjusted, July’s medium-duty orders rise to 17,600 units, up 4% from June.”