The Wall Street Journal (8/11, Sweet, Subscription Publication) reports that Ford Motor Co. and SunPower Corp. announced yesterday a partnership to sell solar-powered cars. Under the arrangement, customers who buy or lease a Ford Focus electric will also be able to buy a rooftop solar-power generator from SunPower and charging system from Best Buy at the Ford dealership. The SunPower system is expected to cost around $10,000 though Ford has not said what the Focus electric will cost.

The Arizona Republic (8/11, Randazzo) adds, “SunPower and Ford officials hope to capitalize on the overlap in their customer base of environmentally minded customers who support American companies, said SunPower President and CEO Tom Werner.” Werner added, “Almost half the electric-car buyers are likely to go solar.” Because EV owners are expected to charge their cars at night and the solar panels produce power during the day, they will “not directly power the cars, just offset what the cars use at night when recharging.”

The San Jose Mercury News (8/11, Hull) says the solar array will be “deeply discounted” as the company “charges at least $18,000 for a system of that size.” The company “hopes customers will add additional solar panels to cover their household energy use.” One expert is cited saying that “electric vehicles also drastically shorten the payback period of solar panels. So while EVs and solar each stands on its own merits, they make even more sense together.”

NYTimes: Robots Present Additional Challenge To Chinese Workforce

The New York Times (8/15, Subscription Publication) editorializes that the recent announcement by “Terry Gou, the founder and chairman of Foxconn, which employs one million workers in China making Apple iPads, HP computers and other electronic devices” that his company “would deploy a million robots at his plants by 2013 to do much of the labor currently performed by human hands” is disheartening considering “a Department of Labor study estimated that manufacturing workers in China earned $1.36 an hour in 2008 – about 4 percent of what an American worker made.”ÂDespite these figures, the Times says “wages are rising” seemingly “because the new manufacturing jobs are far from where the underemployed farmers live.”ÂThe Times states that “as robots take over more work, the millions trapped in the countryside will have even fewer opportunities.”

Harley-Davidson Sees Resurgence In Domestic Sales

The AP (7/20) reports that Harley-Davidson saw domestic sales rise for the firsttime in five years, which “more than doubled” the company’s second-quarter profit. The higher demand has eaten into”what were already low dealer inventories,” spurring Harley-Davidson to increase production levels slightly. CEO KeithWandell said keeping production in line with demand would be a priority for the company. “But more importantly,” headded, “as we get through our manufacturing transformation, one of the important things to note is that we’ll then havethe flexibility to be able to flex up and down much more quickly as these demand patterns and or seasonal patterns occur.”

NADCA’s 2011 Die Casting Shipment Report Provides Insight on Current and Future Shipping Data

NADCA’s 2011 Die Casting Shipment Report is now available. This report detailsthe shipments, by alloy, of die castings in 2007 through 2010.It also includes a custom versus captive breakdown,and industry sales estimates. The report includes projections for shipments in 2011 and a forecast for 2012.

NADCA conducted its annual shipment survey of die casting operations in the United States and Canada in March, 2011. This survey is the fourth annual comprehensive attempt to gain industry trend data from as many die casting operations as possible.Over 150 aluminum die casters provided their data for 2010.Over 75 zinc die casters sent in their data and ten magnesium die casters provided shipment levels for 2010.The data was reviewed for consistency and calculations were made on the total shipment data for each type of metal (aluminum, zinc and magnesium.The report indicates that in 2010 there was a:

  • 40% shipment increase of aluminum die castings
  • 34% shipment increase of zinc die castings
  • Slight drop in shipments of magnesium die castings

This report assists in providing the most current insight on the North American die casting industry while also enabling companies to forecast future shipments in specific markets and overall.The 2011 Die Casting Shipment Report is now available for the modest price of: $30 for Corporate Members, $45 for Individual Members and $60 for Non Members. Visit: publication # 880-2 to download your copy today!

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