Roger Schreffler


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

JATCO Chief Discusses Shifting Transmission Industry
“We have a big plant in Mexico which accounts for 30% of our global production. Therefore, if any major changes were to occur with NAFTA, it would have a big impact on our operation. I tend to be optimistic, at least neutral,” Teruaki Nakatsuka says.
Groundbreaking Prius Hybrid Evolves Over 20 Years
Since the Prius hybrid’s launch, Toyota has sold 4.3 million units. Honda, ranked second, has sold 2 million hybrids. The rest of the industry combined has delivered an estimated 2 million.
General Motors’ Michigan Plant Model of Flexibility
Two line workers attach the battery or gas tank – depending on model, Bolt or Sonic – comes to their zone, with 10 fasteners. Further down the line, another two workers attach the driveline, this time with 12 fasteners, engaging in virtually the same process whether it’s a Sonic or a Bolt.
Japan’s Hybrid-Vehicle Makers Headed for Record Year
In 2016, Toyota sold 1.4 million hybrids globally. It is on track to sell 1.5 million units this year while all Japanese OEMs, mostly Toyota and Honda, are primed to reach 1.8 million, up from 1.6 million.
EV-Battery Expert Predicts Lower Costs, Higher Range
XALT Energy CEO Subhash Dhar insists all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars “will not be restrained by a lack of battery. They will be restrained by a lack of recharging stations. The consumer’s range anxiety will shift to recharging-station anxiety.”
Electric Propulsion Gaining Traction in China 1
Fourin, a Japan-based market-research group, expects production capacity for battery-powered passenger vehicles, both pure EVs and plug-in hybrids, to grow to 3.8 million units in 2020, up from 1.0 million in 2016.
Japanese Plants’ Output in EU Robust 1
An industry study says exports from Europe last year accounted for 291,647 units, or 20% of Japanese production in the region.
Nissan Fortifying Autonomous-Driving Position
Speaking to alternative propulsion, Nissan product planning chief Phillipe Klein says the automaker will be ready to match technologies to the value consumers place on them.
Prospects Bright for Lighting, Sensor Supplier Hella
Claiming to be the market leader in sales of 24-GHz narrow-band radar technology, Hella has 15 OEM customers using the technology in 120 vehicles. The supplier is readying a 77-GHz unit for production in 2019.
Primearth Says Toyota Eyes U.S. Battery Plant
The timeframe remains unclear and the project is in discussion stages, but a company official tells WardsAuto Toyota wants to produce its own batteries for both hybrids and battery-electric vehicles.
J.D. Power Quality Survey Tracks Industry’s Progress
Affiliates Hyundai and Kia “perform extremely well in almost every market,” says Dave Sargent, J.D. Power vice president-global automotive operations. “They lead in the U.S. and are close to the top in China. Beyond that, there is a great deal of parity between the U.S. domestics, the Europeans and the Japanese.”
Alternative-Powertrain Vehicle Sales Gain in Europe
Electrified-vehicle sales of all types grew 21% from 235,604 units in 2015 to 303,506 units last year. Plug-in hybrid sales rose 17% to 112,999 units, while sales of battery-electric cars rose 3% to 90,795.
Toyota Leads Hybrid Market to Record Sales in 2016
Toyota fielded the top-selling hybrids in 2016, led by the Prius with 356,560 units, followed by the Prius C and its Japanese derivative, the Aqua (194,390); RAV4 hybrid (98,780); Auris (93,983); and Yaris (87,223).
Schaeffler Stakes Claim to Automotive’s Leading Edges
“We see a stepwise advance into autonomous cars, fleet cars, city cars, “'robo-taxis” and the like,” says Peter Gutzmer, Schaeffler’s chief technology officer. “Why? These vehicles can afford the additional cost.”
Imports Into Japan Up in 2016; Mercedes Leads Way
Japan Automobile Importers Assn. Chairman Peter Kronschnabl attributes imports’ recovery to automakers putting greater emphasis on new propulsion and driver-assistance technologies.

Jan 18, 2018

2018 Wards 10 Best Engines Editorial Roundtable Part 2

WardsAuto editors discuss some of the 22 nominees that did not make the cut in this year's Wards 10 Best Engines competition....More


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