MCAD Tech News (#234)

20 Feb, 2008

Scene isn't Green in U.S. Auto Market

Regarding the Detroit Big Three's efforts to befriend the Earth,
the question seems to be if it will happen, not when.

By Jeffrey Rowe

Jeffrey Rowe photoYou would think that by now the so-called Detroit Big Three automakers -- Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler -- would have jumped on the green bandwagon to develop smaller, more fuel-efficient, easier-to-produce vehicles. After all, not everyone wants a vehicle that weighs 6,000 pounds, produces 500 horsepower and foot pounds of torque, and gets 12 miles per gallon of gas.

Ford, GM, and Chrysler do offer a few hybrid models, mainly trucks, SUVs, and crossovers. This is great news for fuel-conscious customers of these larger vehicles, but how long will the market have to wait for a U.S.-manufactured contender to take on the smaller Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry, or Honda Civic hybrids? My advice: Don't hold your breath. The Big Three have a subpar track record in the green arena, and that seems unlikely to change any time soon.

Publicity, Not Profit
As much publicity as hybrid vehicles have received, the attention hasn't exactly translated into huge sales. As a matter of fact, all combined hybrid sales in the United States last year only accounted for a little more than 2% of all new cars and trucks sold, and Toyota, Honda, and Lexus models enjoyed the majority of those sales. However, hybrids accounted for almost 11% of Toyota's U.S. sales last year. Little information is available about how hybrids are selling for the Detroit Big Three. "No word" from Detroit usually means slow sales, and I'm sure that's the case here.

Why hybrids haven't been better sellers is something of a mystery, but is probably directly related to their higher cost compared with conventional models and the payback time required to offset the additional up-front cost. Most potential automotive customers still regard hybrids as a novelty, not yet worthy of serious consideration.  Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Jeffrey Rowe is the principal of Cairowest Group, an independent industrial design, mechanical engineering, and technical communication consulting firm with offices in Colorado and Michigan. You can reach him by e-mail at or by phone at 719.539.8549.


Cadalyst Labs Review: Mathematica 6

By Mike Hudspeth, IDSA

How many times have you heard people say, "How hard can it be? It's not rocket science"? They might be correct most of the time, but what if it really is rocket science or some other high-end math problem? What will you do then? If you're like me, you'll stand there a minute with a glazed-over expression on your face, you'll scratch your head, and then you'll figure out a way to either find someone else who knows how to do math of this kind or come up with a more empirical way to figure it all out. Another alternative would be to fire up your copy of Mathematica 6 from Wolfram Research.

Mathematica 6 is a computational engine par excellence. It can handle just about any kind of complex math you can throw at it. It's for the big dogs (mathwise). Colleges and universities use it to further science and mathematics as we know it -- and with a pedigree like that, it's got to be good. And it is.  Read more»


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events

Advanced Manufacturing Expo
March 26-27, 2008 
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Comprising the Advanced Manufacturing Expo Assembly Canada and the Canadian High Technology Show, this event is designed to help attendees learn about, compare and implement solutions designed to help operations become leaner and more flexible. Sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Read more»

WESTEC 2008 Exposition & Conference
March 31-April 3, 2008 
Los Angeles, California
Sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, WESTEC offers free educational programs, including sessions on comparative technologies, lean principles, and business management strategies. This year, WESTEC launches an all-new Back-to-Basics program offering pathways to manufacturing careers. Read more»

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on


What’s New at

Drawing Scales, Part 1: Practicing Our Scales
In his latest "Learning Curve" column, author Bill Fane introduces AutoCAD 2008's annotative objects, which can change everything, automatically. Read more»

Tech Trends Feature: Dividing the Digital Plunder
Depending on your personal opinion about intellectual property, you might be part of the problem, not the solution, to software piracy. A report from Cadalyst's Kenneth Wong. Read more»

Benchmark 2008 Now Available
The latest Cadalyst Systems Benchmark is now live on Designed to test and compare systems running AutoCAD, C2008 is packed with new features including expanded 3D graphics tests and 2D/3D test options, a new Compare option at the end of the test, an improved Readme file with detailed instructions for using the test and evaluating results, and much more.

Announcing Cadalyst Tips & Tricks Tuesdays
Attention AutoCAD users! All it takes is 90 seconds and you could be off to more productive use of AutoCAD. Cadalyst announces Tips & Tricks Tuesdays with worldwide AutoCAD Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen. Each Tuesday, Lynn and Cadalyst bring a new, super-quick tip to the Cadalyst Video Gallery. Subscribe to Tips & Tricks Tuesdays and receive an e-mail notification every time a new tip goes live in the Cadalyst Video Gallery.