Special Coverage

Management Briefing Seminars

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – As the federal government invests billions of taxpayer cash in Chrysler Group LLC, General Motors Co., suppliers, clunkers and other programs to support the U.S. auto industry, what is it getting for its money?

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), which includes 11 auto makers based in the U.S. and abroad, has embarked on a study to underscore why maintaining a strong domestic automotive sector is vital to other industries as well.

Kathryn Clay, AAM research director, says during a Management Briefing Seminars manufacturing session here the ongoing study already has identified numerous spin-offs of automotive research and development.

“In Washington, the key to being successful with policy makers is to have a compelling message,” she says.

Among the auto industry’s pioneering developments subsequently adopted in other areas are tooling and processes, especially industrial robotics, she says.

“The auto industry” led the way and “has driven down the cost of robotics with benefits for everyone,” she points out.

Many advances in aerospace also are traceable to technology developed by auto makers, Clay says, with silicon-wafer production, biotech, and medical diagnostics on the list.

Concentrated solar power installations use several technologies developed by auto makers or their suppliers including reflectors, chassis and power electronics, he emphasizes.

Looking ahead, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory envisions leveraging vehicle-battery technology to increase capacity and reliability of the nation’s power grid, she adds.