Japan's larger automakers – companies like Toyota, Honda and Nissan – have tremendous engineering talent at their disposal. That's largely because, selling as many cars as they do, they've got more revenues to tap into. Logic might dictate, then, that smaller automakers like Mazda, which no longer has the deep pockets afforded to it by its former partnership with Ford, might have less of a budget and workforce for engineering. But Mazda has been raking in record profits, and it plans
Porsche is investing heavily in research and development to stay ahead of the company's impressive sales growth. Automotive News reports the German automaker is spending more than 10 percent of its revenue on research and development. That figure comes from Wolfgang Hatz, Porsche's head of R&D (for comparison's sake, automakers spend between five and six percent).
Most automakers have come out to support the new 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy target of 54.5 miles per gallon. Engineers, however, aren't so sure we're ready to hit that number. Despite a stamp of approval from the Union of Concerned Scientists, the folks that design and build the actual products evidently feel that the CAFE target will not be hit without serious changes to vehicle size and cost.
Most automakers have come out to support the new 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy target of 54.5 miles per gallon. Engineers, however, aren't so sure we're ready to hit that number. Despite a stamp of approval from the Union of Concerned Scientists, the folks that design and build the actual products evidentlyfeel that the CAFE target will not be hit without serious changes to vehicle size and cost.
Automakers and suppliers on the hunt for trained mechatronics engineers are finding that it's still difficult to locate qualified individuals. Jerry Klarr, director of North American hybrid programs for AVL Powertrain Engineering Inc. in Detroit, MI, states that his firm is:
Hiring new engineers in the auto industry is always something of a gamble. Just because someone coming out of school has a 4.0 GPA, it doesn't mean that they are well suited to the day-to-day problem solving and innovation required of a modern engineer. In the past, a lot of new engineers were recruited through co-operative education programs or internships where companies got see students work first hand. However, cost cutting efforts in recent years have caused these programs to be curtailed.
If working on high-tech batteries like the units pictured above or developing complex hybrid powertrains is your cup of tea, then boy are you a lucky one. As countless automakers turn their attention towards a future filled with electric and hybrid vehicles, the demand for mechatronics engineers will only continue to grow.
For over a century, the training of automotive engineers has focused on creating vehicles propelled by internal combustion engines. Electrical and mechanical engineers have worked on piston engines, transmissions and all manner of related systems. The future holds new directions for transportation, much of which revolves around electric drive systems. That means veterans and upcoming engineers need new skill sets.
It is true, as we wrote earlier today, that GM is cutting back on production launches and bringing new technologies to market, but not all is dead and gone at the Ren Cen or, for that matter, over in Ann Arbor, the home of the University of Michigan. 50 GM engineers will start taking U of M classes in January to learn more about electric drive technology.