Roger Schreffler


Roger keeps tabs on the Japanese auto industry, specializing in coverage of manufacturing and advanced technology.

Primearth, AESC Power Players in EV, PHEV Production
Although their product portfolios do not include mobile-phone, computing and general power-grid applications, the battery manufacturers are giants in the auto industry thanks to their connections to Toyota and Nissan.
Malaysia, Philippines,Vietnam Top SE Asia Markets 
Despite last year’s record production and sales, the Malaysian Automotive Assn. predicts a 2.5% decline in sales in 2016, reflecting the country’s current sluggish economy, triggered by a fall in crude-oil prices and the weakening ringgit.
Acura, Infiniti Not Conceding North America to Lexus
“No question about it, Lexus has been successful,” industry analyst Chris Richter says. “They’re competing head-to-head with the stars of the industry. On the other hand, this success hasn’t extended in the same way to other major markets.”
Mazda Diesel Moving in Japan, Export Markets 2
There’s still no indication Mazda will follow through on original plans to sell its Skyactiv diesel in North America, but an executive says the automaker remains committed to the engine.
Hitachi Sets Sights on Automated Parking 
The system, a joint project with Clarion, is scheduled for market introduction in 2018, the company says.
Lexus Planning to Sell 6,600 LC Coupes Annually, Conquest Other Makes
Unveiled in its production sheet metal at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show in January, the Lexus LC 500 “will be a pretty spectacular car for the money,” a Lexus executive says.
Japanese Automakers Set New Production Mark in 2015 
Overseas output is up sharply from 2007, when Japan still accounted for nearly half of the vehicles produced. Last year, it was responsible for only about a third.
Aisin Ambitions on Display Along With Products at NAIAS 
The Japanese supplier eyes growth in five technology areas. Its North American operations are expected to play a key role.
Jatco CVT Software Takes on ‘Smoothness Problem’
Jatco engineer Haruhisa Nakano estimates 70% of CVTs supplied to Nissan, the supplier’s biggest customer, will feature so-called D-step shift in the next two to three years.
Mercedes Tops VW as Top-Selling Japanese Import 
Despite the year-over-year decline, sales slowed at a lower rate than domestically built cars, which are on track to show an 8.9% drop when full-year results are announced later this month.
European LV Emissions Down, Fuel Efficiency Up
BMW, Mercedes and Audi all achieved 45 mpg in 2014, while Peugeot and Renault improved to 53.5 mpg and 52 mpg, respectively. BMW showed the biggest improvement over 2004, 34%, followed by Mercedes (32%) and Peugeot (28%).
Honda Powertrain Overhaul Targets Weight, Emissions
“China will adopt some of the world’s most stringent regulations in terms of fuel economy,” Honda automotive R&D chief Keiji Ohtsu says. “In 2025, we don’t expect to be able to sell conventional internal-combustion engines, meaning we will be selling mostly hybrids including plug-in types.”
Shades of Green in Spotlight at Tokyo Auto Show
The new Honda FCX Clarity has a range of 435 miles and takes three minutes to refuel, while Nissan’s new Leaf can run 175 miles on a single charge, up from the current model’s 142.
Toyota Sees Even Split Between Prius Batteries
Production will be divided evenly between Li-ion and the NiMH batteries Toyota has used nearly exclusively until now. Sales of cars with the two battery types will be further split 50-50 in North America and Japan.
Japan Steps Up Engine Downsizing Pace
Toyota, Honda, Nissan, plus Japan’s smaller automakers, have a number of new smaller-displacement yet powerful engines on the way.


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