Saturday 23 February 2013

VW sales, employees rise nine per cent

Volkswagen has announced sales revenue for the 2012 financial year of €192.7 billion (prior year: €159.3 billion),

The Group’s operating profit of €11.5 billion (€11.3 billion) exceeded the prior-year record level.

“The economic environment for our business became noticeably more difficult as the year progressed. Nevertheless, we succeeded in meeting the targets we set ourselves for 2012,” said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the board of management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft.

Winterkorn remained guardedly confident about 2013: “We, too, are not completely immune to the intense competition and the far-reaching crisis in key European markets. Furthermore, uncertainty in the economic environment continues. Nevertheless, we see good opportunities for the Volkswagen Group to once again outperform competitors this year thanks to our sound financial strength and earning power, a broad-based and attractive model range, an expanding presence on all major global markets and our comprehensive financial services.”

OFT truck ruling raises questions

The announcement on Thursday 21 February 2013 that Mercedes-Benz and three of its commercial vehicle dealers have been ordered to pay fines totalling £2.6 million having admitted breaching competition law raises several questions.

For example, how will the companies react to publication of the OFT’s announcement? Have the firms affected agreed how they will trade in future? Have the companies involved introduced new modus operandi? Have they taken steps to avoid a repeat of the infringements? Have any staff within the companies been reprimanded or disciplined for their actions? And how will other van and truck manufacturing companies operating in the UK react to the events?

These and other questions arise because of the OFT’s announcement concerning three admitted infringements of competition law involving the distribution of Mercedes-Benz vans and trucks between January 2008 and January 2010.

The dealers involved are mainly active in areas in the North of England and parts of Wales and Scotland. The OFT's actions have been taken to show that it has teeth.

Thursday 21 February 2013

VW claims RTM ‘first’ for a volks wagen

The XL1 1-litre fuel economy car from Volkswagen uses resin transfer moulding (RTM) first devised successfully by Lotus in the UK over 40 years ago.

The prototype, with its plug-in hybrid system, uses sports car design principles of low weight (795kg), sound aerodynamics (Cd 0.189) and low centre of gravity (1.153mm high) to achieve a fuel consumption of 0.9litres/100km.

These features, combined with a two-cylinder TDI diesel of 48PS (35kW), a E-motor of 27PS (20kW), a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG) and lithium-ion battery, make it possible for the XL1 to emit 21g/km of CO2. It has a top speed of 160km/h and an all-electric drive mode range of 50km.

The XL1 is manufactured by Volkswagen Osnabrück GmbH in the former Karmann facilities where some 1,800 employees produce Golf Cabriolets and Porsche Boxsters.

Torotrak expands business links

 Within a couple of months, the employees of Motorsport Components Ltd will move premises and become part of Lancashire-based Torotrak plc which earlier this month acquired the business with its modest annualised turnover of £214,000 for £175,000.

The five-man business has worked closely in the past with the variable drive innovator, machining various precision components including cases, shafts and actuator assemblies.

Now the team will form the nucleus of a ‘new’ in-house manufacturing unit geared to short-run manufacture of completed assemblies such as MKERS – mechanical kinetic energy recovery systems – of the type that could be fitted to urban bus fleets.

Torotrak will maintain MCL’s key customer relationships. However, the precision machining and fabrication services will support the prototype and low-volume manufacturing requirements of Torotrak’s programmes and will be a catalysts for growth in this area.

Monday 18 February 2013

RAM diesel to spark pick-up truck battle

CHRYSLER’S long-held plan to launch its Ram 1500 half-ton truck with a VM Motori V6 diesel engine could well spark both Ford and General Motors to do the same.

Chrysler dealt the first blow in a new pick-up truck battle the North American International Auto (NAIA) Show in Detroit on 14 January when it launched the Jeep Grand Cherokee equipped with a 3-litre V6 EcoDiesel. It has since been forced to confirm the same V6 EcoDiesel will become available in 2014 model year Ram 1500 pick-up trucks from July this year.

Ram is the first brand to announce a diesel engine in the critical half-ton pick-up truck sector, throwing down new competitive benchmarks in fuel economy, CO2 emissions, driving range and torque. The Ram 1500 is the standard-duty version of the well-known pick-up truck that won the 2013 Motor Trend Truck of the Year Award.

If Ford and GM now follow suit, then this could not only boost diesel activity in North America, but make waves in the foundry supply industry, as all three engines most likely will use compacted graphite iron (CGI) as the material of choice for cylinder blocks.

Monday 11 February 2013

‘King of the Road’ Scania widens CGI use


Scania, it can be revealed, is the latest heavy commercial vehicle maker to widen its use of compacted graphite iron (CGI) in diesel engines.

Our detailed and analytical process of elimination lifts the veil on Scania’s foundry in Södertälje, Sweden, as the latest to install SinterCast’s process control technology to produce CGI. SinterCast is banned from naming its customer.

Already making use of CGI cylinder blocks for its top-of-the-range V-8 truck engine – the 90-degree blocks for this engine are sourced from Halberg-Guss’s foundry in Leipzig, Germany which also uses SinterCast’s CGI process control technology – it is now known that from March of this year Scania will use high-strength CGI material from its own tied foundry to produce cylinder blocks for its popular 12.7-litre truck engine So two of Scania’s engine lines will carry CGI blocks.

The Swedish truck maker also makes a 9.3-litre engine, the blocks of which could later become the subject of further CGI expansion. The 9.3-, 12.7- and 16.4-litre engines share the same bores to offer parts’ commonality.

Sunday 3 February 2013

Geely rescues Manganese Bronze

Production of London TX4 taxi cabs could begin within weeks at the Coventry site of Manganese Bronze following the decision by Geely UK to buy the company out of administration for £11 million.

The acquisition came after Geely, the company’s biggest creditor, refused to provide funding to keep the cab maker afloat. Geely owned about 25 per cent of Manganese Bronze. The move will save about 100 jobs at the Coventry-based cab maker.

Daniel Li, chairman of Geely UK, noted the Chinese company would use Manganese Bronze as a vehicle to sell Geely cars in Europe.

Li said that Geely planned to invest between £30 and 50 million over the next five years to introduce new models into production.