Cost Returns as Top Auto Industry Challenge, Invites Collaborative Solutions, According to 2007 DuPont Automotive/SAE Survey
Cost reduction may again be the number one challenge facing automotive engineers and designers heading into this week’s SAE World Congress in Detroit, but nearly 70 percent of attendees say there is growing recognition and business practice surrounding “total cost reduction” versus “reduced price,” according to results from the 13th annual DuPont Automotive/SAE survey.
“The distinction between ‘total systems and assembled cost reduction’ and ‘price cutting’ is needed to be able to strategically manage the omnipresent cost-reduction challenge in this competitive industry,” said Chris Murphy, automotive director – Americas, for DuPont Automotive Performance Materials. “‘Total cost reduction’ is more holistic and invites customer-supplier collaborative solutions that can provide a step-change and more sustainable results, and this year’s survey bears that understanding.”
As an example, Murphy pointed to the growing adoption of DuPont™ Crastin® PBT for directly metalized automotive headlamp bezels, where solutions in materials, design and processing techniques translate into a 40 percent reduction in total part cost and enables designers to achieve new looks that consumers desire. The bezel – a critical trim piece for structure and aesthetics – is commercial on 8 million vehicles globally.
The top three strategies needed to strengthen the industry, according to the survey results, continue to be: Globalize the customer base, increase collaboration across the value chain and emphasize more consumer-focused innovations. “The strategies are clear,” said Murphy. “Executing is the challenge.”
The annual DuPont Automotive/SAE survey of OEM and supplier SAE members planning to attend the 2007 SAE World Congress was conducted by W.K. Greene and Associates and also reports environmental/sustainability challenges, material and powertrain trends.
In addition to 14 percent of attendees pointing to fuel economy and CAFE as the number one challenge facing the industry, one quarter of SAE attendees say lower emissions and clean air regulations top the list of environmental/sustainability issues in 2007.
Additionally, bio-based/alternative fuels and renewably sourced materials are among the most important environmental/sustainability challenges for engineers’ and designers’ development work, according to the 2007 survey findings. “Interest in renewably sourced materials and alternative fuels jumped 60 percent in the last year,” said Murphy. “The challenge to develop cost-effective solutions for more sustainable vehicle technology will absolutely require greater collaboration on a global basis throughout the value chain,” he added.
In the past year, DuPont announced its intent to expand business offerings addressing safety, environment, energy and climate challenges in the global marketplace. Relevant to the auto industry are commitments to develop advanced bio-fuels, a new family of thermoplastic and fiber products based on renewable resources and new SuperStructural products to advance lightweighting efforts.
“In the words of DuPont Chairman and CEO Chad Holliday: ‘What’s good for business must also be good for the environment and for people everywhere in the world’,” said Murphy. “It’s clear that DuPont is committed to using science to deliver materials and technologies that help take us there.”
Alternative-power vehicles again will have the greatest impact on the industry over the next 5-10 years, say 42 percent of attendees. “Clear trends that indicate which technology will dominate surfaced this year,” said Gianluigi Molteni, segment manager - DuPont Automotive Global Powertrain. “While optimizing the gasoline internal-combustion engine, hybrid electric powertrains and fuel-cell development remains active, the most noticeable trend is the increased focus of diesel engine optimization – from just over 1 percent in 2004 to 24 percent in 2007. Our leadership in European diesel applications can be leveraged in North America to help speed programs and improve performance.”
DuPont is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 70 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture and food; building and construction; communications; and transportation.
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