Roger Schreffler


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

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.
Hyundai Guardedly Optimistic on Genesis; Ioniq U.S. Sales to Begin
In a partial year of sale last year, Hyundai sold 6,166 Genesis G80 sedans and 782 G90s in the U.S.
Toyota Doubles Engineers for Lexus LS 1
The increased amount of safety tech in the car is why it has more than 100 electronic control units, compared with 75 in the current LS, chief engineer Toshio Asahi says.
European OEMs Downsizing, Going Electric
Hybrids, excluding plug-ins, marginally grew to 1.5% in 2015, or an estimated 175,200 units, from 1.4%, or 205,500 one year earlier, according to an annual report on the EU market.
Shift to CVT Gearboxes Coming Up on 30th Anniversary 1
Other automakers and suppliers have followed Nissan’s lead, first with CVTs and then with dual-clutch transmissions and higher-gear automatics.
Nissan CEO Ghosn Reviving Embattled Mitsubishi
Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko tells WardsAuto areas of potential collaboration include Nissan taking advantage of Mitsubishi’s Southeast Asian production base and Mitsubishi adopting Nissan’s development of autonomous-driving technologies.
Japanese Automakers Predict Fiscal-2016 Sales Off 8%
The industry group’s sales report links the projected sales decline in part to Mitsubishi’s mileage-cheating scandal which surfaced in April and led to the automaker suspending production of 0.66L minicars for itself and Nissan.
Toyota’s Powertrain Strategy Extending Beyond Hybrids
To date, the Japanese automaker, the world’s leader in gas-electric hybrids, has introduced three new engines with forced induction – two gasoline and one diesel – on 11 Toyota and Lexus cars.


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