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Automotive Industry ¦ Changes Are Coming

The automotive industry has always been dynamic, but never more so than now. Situations like those in Japan are escalating the changes in the industry. Some of these changes like increased usage of common parts in vehicle manufacture will be good if they happen.

Some are speculating the demise of the petroleum powered vehicles in favor of “green technology” but the demise has been forecast far too many times in the industry. However the petroleum fueled vehicles are still here and technology from companies like Mazda and Daihatsu are promising the fuel consumed should be no more costly than the cost for hybrid vehicles for the same miles driven.

Mazda and Daihatsu have chosen not to “go with the flow” of other global automakers that are placing more focus and resources on development of hybrid and electric vehicles. Daihatsu has developed technology that will enable it to offer the only car in the world capable of traveling 30km per liter of gasoline.

“Mitsubishi is prepared to release a cheaper version of its i-MiEV electric car, and hopes economies of scale will cut the cost of batteries within a few years,” said President Osamu Masuko recently. Mitsubishi also is developing technology that will allow its’ EV to go 10% further on charges.

In Kashiwazaki, Japan, a consortium of 57 small businesses has unveiled a prototype one seat electric car that can travel 100km between charges.

A partnership between the Tokyo Metropolitan University, a used car dealer, and a research institute will launch a project aimed at converting used cars into electric vehicles. The goal is to make EVs available at prices far lower than conventional electric cars. If this project succeeds, there may be more “middle class “people purchasing EVs for the first time. Hopefully the partnership will focus on one brand and one model vehicle to start.

Other factors influencing the service and repair industry are coming from many directions such as contract worker hiring is spreading across the auto industry, and auto parts companies are boosting their Chinese production capabilities. Not to be out done, changes in other areas of transportation are emerging such as Mitsui Engineering has developed a fuel-efficient Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) carrier.

Toyota's Navigator is a car navigation system that alerts drivers to red lights, traffic restrictions and stalled vehicles. Now you have a permanent “mother-in-law” in the back seat telling you how to drive and where to go. They have also engineered a collision prevention system that automatically controls the brake and steering wheel of a vehicle when it recognizes the possibility of an accident. Since this is new technology of course it is going to have problems, can you just imagine when it takes over without any need and the results from this takeover of the steering and braking? Try explaining that to a cop!

These changes are going to push the limits of the professional general mechanic to the point of no more “general mechanics” and the requisite for specialists in only a few brands or a few areas is going to become the norm. It is no longer feasible for a mechanic either just starting out or early in their profession to purchase the necessary training, data systems, and tools to service a broad swath of vehicles.

As of December 2014, Toyota has officially lauched it's Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) that runs on Hydrogen. The vehicle is called th Murai and has been so well received by the public that Toyota has increased the production limits currently to double the original limit.

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