Car companies must engineer a breakthrough

20 July 2009
Automotive manufacturers and their suppliers have been crying out for financial help from governments and banks to shore up their businesses. And developments are happening almost on a daily basis. Last week the UK government was criticised for not doing enough to support this ailing industry, and today Nissan has announced that its Wearside factory will start producing batteries for electric cars, which is expected to create 350 new jobs. Would-be buyers of General Motor’s Opel business have until later today to lodge plans for the firm’s future. And earlier this month the first owner of the world's cheapest car, the Tata Nano, took possession of his vehicle in Mumbai, India. One example of a firm waiting to hear if it will get the loan it wants (support which now looks unlikely), is Volvo Car Corporation. While it awaits news from the European Investment Bank, its CPO tells SM what the firm is doing to secure its future. “The best we can do is invest in new technology and increase volumes. Safety is core in Volvo so we work with suppliers in this area. For example, we're launching a safety system that slows vehicles down on low speed roads if they get too close to another driver. We would like to be first to the market with this. “The environment is very important so last year we launched cars we call 'Drive E'. They have very low fuel consumption and we see with these kinds of new products volumes are increasing.” Cars last longer and customers want them cheaper and greener than ever before. So automotive companies – like firms everywhere – must adapt if they are to survive.
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