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Future fuel trends discussed

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Future fuel trends discussed

Barb Samardzich, Ford's vice president of powertrain engineering, said internal-combustion engines will dominate for the foreseeable future.

Diesel still debatable

Johannes-Joerg Rueger, senior vice president of mega-supplier Robert Bosch, said the adoption rate of diesel engines offered by Volkswagen and Audi in the U.S. shows that there is an opportunity for more diesel sales in the U.S.

But Samardzich said the cost of manufacturing a diesel engine to meet air emissions standards, combined with the higher cost of diesel fuel, makes diesel engines too costly.

GM, meanwhile, is looking to ethanol. Larry Nitz, GM's executive director of hybrid and electric powertrain engineering, said ethanol remains the best short-term solution to improve fuel efficiency.

GM has sold 5.5 million vehicles that can use E-85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. "If the fuel was available at a competitive price, these cars could use it," Nitz said.

Super Duty gets more power

Ford said its Super Duty pickup will reclaim the title for horsepower and towing capacity in the heavy-duty segment when production of a retuned engine begins this week.

The automaker is adding horsepower and torque to the new diesel engine in the pickup.

The move puts the Super Duty ahead of the Chevrolet Silverado.

"The good news is the customer wins ... because we are going to come out with more product improvements," said Ford Chief Engineer Chris Brewer.

Customers who already rushed out to buy the 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty can go back to their dealers and get a software upgrade that boosts the horsepower and torque for free in a process that is expected to take about 30 minutes.

Hybrids boost supplier

The adoption of hybrid and electric cars stands to boost business for Cooper-Standard Automotive, said the supplier's vice president of sales and engineering, Lyle Otremba.

The Novi-based supplier makes systems to cool engines, radiators and the large batteries that will power electric cars, Otremba said.

"It's probably one of the biggest changes coming in a car that most people wouldn't see," Otremba said.

Supplier moves to Auburn Hills

TI Automotive, a global supplier of automotive fuel tanks, pumps and other products, has moved its headquarters from Warren to Auburn Hills, consolidating 350 employees into a campus with an adjacent technology center.

The company is also hiring to fill about a dozen salaried positions as a result of surging sales volume, Bill Kozyra, CEO of TI Automotive, said Tuesday.

"In the last seven months, we've received about $3 billion in new business for future models in model years 2012 and beyond," Kozyra said.



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