Archives for April 2013

Will 3D Printers Revolutionize the Auto Part Industry?

Auto Parts“The part’s not in, but we’ll order it for you?”

 

How many times have you heard that before? Your vehicle is in at the shop, everyone knows what needs to be done and how to do it — it may even be a simple, 5-minute job — but you can’t get back behind the wheel because the part needs to arrive from the manufacturer. It happens more often than anyone would like, but that could be changing soon.

 

Much in the same way that people upload patterns for craft projects, able to be printed onto paper at home, 3D printing looks like it could revolutionize the way many people do business and live their lives, and that includes in the auto industry.

 

Print a Part When You Need It

While different automakers have different designs for their parts, it wouldn’t surprise us if those at the forefront of innovation — as Honda has been for some time — would start pushing for 3D printers to be installed at their service centers. Then, all that you would need is to look up the schematic for the piece you needed, press “print,” and wait until it’s done.

 

Now, the materials you’ll be using in an engine might need to be of sturdier stuff than home 3D printers are capable of, so this may be a bit in the realm of sci-fi for now, but it would be very easy to create a temporary fix piece that lets you keep driving your car while the stock part is sent to the dealership.

 

It could even be the kind of thing that DIY mechanics could handle at home, with the technologically-inclined designing 3D printer-friendly designs for generic, all-purpose parts.

 

When it comes to certain accents, like roof rail pieces, gas caps, and other essential auto parts, there is little reason those couldn’t be made using current printers. It’s just an issue of pushing the envelope — and if there’s anyone that’s doing that in the auto industry, it’s Honda.

 

With their development of smartphone apps to ease traffic congestion and save fuel economy, their equipping of new vehicles with many modern amenities, and their push for fuel-cell cars in the form of the FCX Clarity, we think its just a matter of time.

The 2014 Honda Odyssey gets a Vacuum

Honda Odyssey Built-In Vacuum CleanerGrowing up, my family’s minivan was a trooper. It took the brunt of spills, stains, tears, and even burns from those who thought it would be funny to pull out a lighter. A solid hour of vacuuming was a weekly chore that my mom delegated down the ranks to the children.

 

Road trips were a completely different matter, though. Away from base, we didn’t have the ability to vacuum the vehicle. While there were ways around this, there would inevitably be a longer line at the gas station to use the pay-vacuum than either the bathroom or gas pumps combined. Not wanting to waste time, we would push on, letting the flotsam of spilled cheerios, popcorn, and broken crayon bits pile up even higher.

 

I do distinctly remember my mom half-heartedly joking that she wished she had a vacuum on board during our trips. Jump forward twenty years and Honda is making it a reality. The HondaVAC system will be an available on 2014 Odyssey Touring Elite Trims, allowing families to vacuum up on the go. Located near the trunk, the HondaVAC system can be easily accessed behind a panel and then discretely stored when not in use. A variety of different attachments make it ideal for tackling most car messes.

 

Interestingly enough, the idea for the HondaVAC didn’t come from Honda’s research teams, but rather from the 10-year old son of one of its engineers. The anonymous boy candidly told his dad during a road trip that they really needed a vacuum cleaner in their minivan. Struck by the simple genius of this idea, the dad returned to Honda’s engineering offices in Raymond, Ohio, and shared the idea with colleagues. It took off, with research teams probing simple questions like “How will it be wired in to the van?” and “Where will it be located?” The result is something that is remarkably useful and practical.

 

While the HondaVAC is a very real thing, Honda incorporated the system into their 2013 April Fools Day treat. In an official-sounding press release and accompanying video, Honda introduced the HondaHAIR add-on for the HondaVAC system, a hair-cutting attachment.

 

Here’s what Honda had to say about this piece of “innovative” technology:

 

“The HondaHAIR offers affordability and convenience and transforms the cargo space into a virtual salon on wheels — eliminating the need to trek to the stylist or barber.”

 

You can check out the HondaHAIR video on YouTube. The realistic production values and general tone of the film make the joke all the funnier.

 

Watch for the 2014 Odyssey and HondaVAC system later this year at Community Honda!

Hybrids, and EVs, and Fuel Cells, Oh My!

2013 Honda Insight

Sometimes, it’s tough to get it all straight when there are so many different kinds of technology coming out all the time. Lucky for you, at Community Honda of Orland Park, we’re experts because Honda has a horse in every race. What we mean is that Honda makes a wide range of low-emission, high-efficiency vehicles. In fact, they’re currently offering a fuel cell vehicle, a natural gas vehicle, an electric vehicle, and a variety of hybrids. Here’s how to keep it all straight:

  • Hybrids – The Honda Insight has been on sale for more than a decade, and now the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In hybrid is redefining how we think of Hybrid vehicles. These cars use batteries and gas to power electric motors and engines respectively. Both technologies work together to power the vehicle as efficiently as possible.
  • Electric vehicles – An electric vehicle doesn’t have anything to do with gas — it works purely on electric energy stored in a battery. Electric vehicles produce no emissions, and deliver instant torque to the wheels with high-speed electric motors. The new Honda Fit EV uses a 92-kW motor powered by a 20-kWh lithium-ion battery.
  • Natural gas – Honda currently produces a Civic Natural Gas, which effectively uses compressed gas in an internal combustion engine. This is cleaner than gas, and it’s efficient, too.
  • Fuel cells – The Honda FCX Clarity is one of the only fuel cell vehicles on the road in the United States. Fuel cell vehicles use compressed hydrogen to create electric power. Amazingly, this process produces just one waste product: water. That’s right — fuel cell vehicles are effectively zero-emissions. Unfortunately, the infrastructure for hydrogen fueling stations isn’t widespread and the technology is still developing. That’s why the FCX Clarity is only currently available for lease in California and New York as part of a large-scale test program.

Get behind the wheel of one of the efficient and innovative Honda vehicles currently available at Community Honda of Orland Park. We’d love to show you how much you can save by switching to an alternative-fuel technology.