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Month: May 2013

Inside a North American Honda Plant

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Two weeks ago, our class had the opportunity to meet with Scott Whitlock, a retired lawyer-turned plant manager of the first American Honda assembly plant in Marysville, Ohio. During his time as a plant manager, Mr. Whitlock faced a unique challenge that many of his counterparts at other facilities and other auto manufacturers did not: his plant was the largest (and one of the only) in the U.S. whose workers were not unionized. While this did afford him some advantages in managing his workers, it also presented many difficulties, as he was managing a largely unprecedented situation.

Grand Theft Auto: Cyberspace

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Almost everyone who uses a computer knows the risks associated with being hacked and having valuable personal information stolen. The media continues to demonstrate with each new release of ill-advised celebrity photos that were obtained by having their cell phones hacked that something we carry in our pockets everyday is vulnerable to invisible thieves. Is it time to start worrying about our cars being hacked as well?

As communication between cars continues to increase, the connectivity between their electronic systems does as well. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller worries that just as connectivity between phone and computer systems makes them susceptible to hacking, cars are now facing a similar threat. Cars are becoming more and more electronic, and therefore have more potential technological weaknesses. Today’s typical luxury car has more than 100 million lines of computer code, while software and electronics account for 40 percent of the car’s cost and half of warranty claims1. The primary concern is that in the future cars will be able to be controlled remotely.

Tesla Dealerships

Posted in Posts, and Syllabus Schedule

This post is dedicated to my dad. I learned today that my dad is fascinated by Tesla and has been following the question of whether Tesla is a technology company or a car company. In a sense its both (The amount of patents that Tesla has for the model s is around 150). The companies straight to consumer business style has not made dealers happy.  Currently car Dealers in four states are in lawsuits attempting to prevent Tesla from owning sites to sell its vehicles under the belief that giants of the industry would begin to do the same putting the dealers out of business.

Frank Ocean’s BMW and the State of the Culture of Cars

Posted in Posts, and Syllabus Schedule

One final music suggestion, Frank Ocean’s Lost:

One of the areas constantly in the background of this econ of the auto industry course was car culture. In fact, it is important enough that we even spent time reading and discussing Tom Wolfe’s “The Kandy-Colored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby,” a collection of essays which delve into car culture in the U.S. during the early 1960’s.