Research Group Feels Impact of Automotive Change

Manufacturing Engineering Magazine September 2018
Bill Koenig

It’s not just automakers and suppliers that are being shaken by a new automotive era.

The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) also feeling the impact of self-driving and electric cars as well as ride-sharing services. CAR is a non-profit research entity. Over the years, it has conducted sales forecasts and written studies about various industry topics.

Under a new CEO, Carla Bailo, the organization has revamped its operations and focus. For example, CAR has an affiliates program where companies give us X amount of dollars in a charitable donation, and they participate in our affiliate events and have us on speed dial. If they have a particular question, we’ll be happy to answer it for them or we’ll speak at their own company-sponsored events.

Until recently, we used to just have the traditional OEMs and traditional suppliers. Now we’re starting to get many more companies interested in data, mobility services, cybersecurity, even some companies that are non-traditional, like those who own cellphone towers. Everybody is wondering how they will have a role in this new world of mobility.

The changes are also affecting how CAR conducts research.

For example, there’s CAR’s manufacturing, engineering and technologies group. That group has been heavily focused on lightweighting and tooling. It still deals with lightweighting, the science of finding ways to cut vehicle weight.

However, the group is doing more studies about joining different material that re related to lightweighting because vehicles are becoming “multi-material” to reduce weight. Joining dissimilar materials is more complicated. Also being studied are 3D printing and smart manufacturing.

CAR is working with the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) and Oak Ridge National Laboratories. IACMI is part of the Manufacturing USA network of manufacturing hubs where companies collaborate with universities and non-profit organizations to develop advanced manufacturing technology. IACMI also shared space with LIFT, which is also part of Manufacturing USA.

IACMI seeks to spur the development of lighter composite materials. It works with LIFT, which deals with lightweighting technologies.

CAR also expanding its powertrain group into more of the electrification space, where they trying to move it into the hot topics, the relevant topics of the future.

Another CAR groups focuses on industry, labor, and economics which is almost 100% focused on what’s happening on a global basis with tariff and trade policy.