30th June 2008

In Communist China, People Buy Ten Million Cars

OK, OK, enough with the Yakov Smirnov references. China is no more communist than, say, California. And its vehicle sales prove it. With already-strong demand for passenger vehicles growing by 15 percent this year, Xinhua reports that Chinese automakers are set to sell 10m cars during 2008. According to information from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), the demand is partly a product of falling car prices; a trend under threat from high steel costs. Moreover, as its car market matures, the Chinese government is poised to “move forward the industry restructuring by detailing standards on security, environment protection and energy saving,” according to CAAM vice-chair Dong Yang. “We should keep a clear mind of the overall industry competence lagged behind that of the multi-national companies.” Bringing domestically-produced Chinese cars up to international snuff will doubtless prove difficult. As the Chinese market matures and regulatory barriers to ownership increase, sales growth should level off. At some point, the People will bias the market towards home-grown products. Until then, it’s double-digit growth as usual.

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30th June 2008

Whatever Happened To… The Gas Turbine Engine

Forty or fifty years ago, every manufacturer built concept cars with alternative– and sometimes pretty outlandish– power plants (small nuclear reactor, anyone?). The gas turbine was a popular choice. GM, Ford and Chrysler were all deeply involved in gas turbine research, stretching back to the late ’40s and early ’50s. In 1963, Chrysler built a fleet of 50 distinctively-styled turbine-powered cars and gave them to consumers to generate real-world feedback. Turbine engines were the wave of the future– a technologically-advanced powerplant that could run on anything combustible that would flow through a pipe, from kerosene to perfume. Chrysler’s test program racked-up over 1.1m miles. They continued turbine engine research until the mid 70s, when they actually planned to put a turbine into production. Then, suddenly, nothing. Chrysler’s financial problems led to government loan guarantees that included stipulations that they abandon plans to produce turbines (too risky). GM and Ford had long-since been distracted by other shiny objects like rotary engines and winning LeMans. So turbine engine research halted. With all the emphasis now on alternative fuels, perhaps it’s time to revive an engine that can run on hydrogen, biofuels, petroleum distillates or even coal dust. Combined with modern engine-control technology, it could be worth a second look. Or not.

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30th June 2008

Whatever Happened To… The Gas Turbine Engine

Forty or fifty years ago, every manufacturer built concept cars with alternative– and sometimes pretty outlandish– power plants (small nuclear reactor, anyone?). The gas turbine was a popular choice. GM, Ford and Chrysler were all deeply involved in gas turbine research, stretching back to the late ’40s and early ’50s. In 1963, Chrysler built a fleet of 50 distinctively-styled turbine-powered cars and gave them to consumers to generate real-world feedback. Turbine engines were the wave of the future– a technologically-advanced powerplant that could run on anything combustible that would flow through a pipe, from kerosene to perfume. Chrysler’s test program racked-up over 1.1m miles. They continued turbine engine research until the mid 70s, when they actually planned to put a turbine into production. Then, suddenly, nothing. Chrysler’s financial problems led to government loan guarantees that included stipulations that they abandon plans to produce turbines (too risky). GM and Ford had long-since been distracted by other shiny objects like rotary engines and winning LeMans. So turbine engine research halted. With all the emphasis now on alternative fuels, perhaps it’s time to revive an engine that can run on hydrogen, biofuels, petroleum distillates or even coal dust. Combined with modern engine-control technology, it could be worth a second look. Or not.

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30th June 2008

TGTV update: episode two

Right, show one’s out of the way, the BBC switchboard is busy fielding the complaints, the British police are urgently reviewing their police car policy, and everyone’s sold their Prius and bought an M3.

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29th June 2008

Special offer

Special offer


26th June 2008 11:56

People and businesses are having to adjust in all sorts of ways to higher gasoline prices and they impact some sectors of the economy more than others. And it’s interesting to see how these adjustments take place. Below is a link to an unusual example.

To be more serious for a moment and still on the subject of the impact of higher oil prices…

Their impact on shipping costs will obviously be felt acutely in the auto industry. Will that make outsourcing production to far flung places (or places a long way from final markets) less attractive? It might do if the overseas base is a global sourcing base and transporation/logistics costs in the operation are relatively high. Maybe some global sourcing decisions that previously would have gone down the ‘let’s do in China’ route will now be tipped into ‘better to do locally’.

Could higher energy prices put the brakes on rampant globalisation in the auto industry?

Prostitutes offer petrol discounts



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29th June 2008

Neuroscience & Psychology Unite For Productivity


EDITOR’S NOTE: During the APS Coordinators Seminar recently held in Bangkok with IMPAC being a major sponsor, Dr. Victor Vroom of Yale University was one of the speakers. Dr. Vroom was interviewed by “The Nation” newspaper during the seminar, and we thought you might like to see the article which appeared in Thailand’s largest business newspaper — The Nation.

Looking to brain science to retain, develop human assets
Published on June 7, 2008

Professor Victor Vroom of Yale University, the long-standing authority on management, leadership and workers’ motivation, told me that advances in neuroscience were having a great impact on psychology.

For instance, the latest brain-imaging technology has allowed scientists to observe what is actually happening in specific parts of the brain in real time. Such observations are expected to have significant consequences on the study of the human mind and behaviour in future.

Back in the 1960′s, when Vroom, who earned his PhD in psychology from the University of Michigan, authored “Worker and Motivation” (1964), which is still in print today, neuroscience and psychology were still distant cousins, given the absence of imaging technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging and computerised tomography.

Today, neuro-psychology gains prominence as scientists have these sophisticated tools to better study the mind and behaviour.

In this context, increased knowledge about workers’ motivation and other aspects of life will likely emerge to help managers and organisational leaders boost productivity and efficiency in the workplace. According to Vroom, who also authored “Leadership” and “New Leadership” in the 1970s and 1980s, the forces of globalisation, technological advancement and increased competition in the market-place have resulted in more complex issues for management.

Hence the decision-making process to resolve these problems needs to be more organic or adaptive and participatory, since today’s knowledge is more specialised and managers alone do not have enough knowledge to tackle the problems.

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