Lexus chief engineer and incoming president, Koji Sato with his signature acheivement, the Lexus LC500. Image source: Toyota Motor Sales, USA

A challenge for engineers is often that the reward for a job well done is a promotion to management and an end to their engineering work. Lexus chief engineer, best known recently for his development of the gorgeous LC500 sport coupe has been rewarded with a promotion to the very top, as he will become president of Lexus International on January 1, 2020.

It is a hard-earned result, as Sato led the team that developed the LF-LC concept car from a stylist’s somewhat impractical dream to the Lexus LC500 production model reality, overcoming significant obstacles during the five-year project. Perhaps it was his ability to balance the desires of styling with the practical realities of engineering and manufacturing that highlighted Sato’s management potential.

Still, he won’t leave engineering behind, as Sato has been able to retain his chief engineer responsibilities for Lexus even as he serves as president. He did also serve as an executive vice president of the company while chief engineer previously, so Sato has some experience juggling management and engineering responsibilities already.

Sato says his goal in serving in these roles will be “to continue his quest for creating the best looking and best engineered vehicles in the world that possess a true Japanese character along with Lexus’ trademark ‘clear and deep’ driving character.”

2019 Lexus LC500. Image source: Toyota Motor Sales, USA

The 1992 Waseda University mechanical engineering graduate led the development of the Lexus GS mid-size sport sedan before taking on the LC program.

“I was the Chief Engineer for the LC,” Sato recalled in an exclusive statement to Design News. “That vehicle represented a significant development milestone for Lexus as a brand,” he said. “It pushed us to change our ways and our thinking. LC was a visionary project in nature, bringing many new design, engineering and manufacturing ideas to the brand – including new processes and a mindset to make that coupe as emotional as possible.”

“Along the way, we worked hard to develop the empowering collaboration and high-level team work necessary to bring this vision to life,” Sato continued. “The LC showed the way, and helped us define a mission to explore technologies and challenge ourselves to produce more innovative and exciting Lexus vehicles.”

Sato said he hopes to apply lessons learned on the LC program to the rest of the company while serving as president. “For the Lexus organization, going forward, my hope is to draw on years involved in team-focused vehicle development, and the diligent work necessary in bringing a vision to reality to help challenge, inspire, and energize the entire organization as we continue evolving the Lexus brand globally.”

2012 Lexus LF-LC concept car. Image source: Toyota Motor Sales, USA

Some of the specific challenges overcome in developing the production LC500 from the LF-LC concept car included the difficulty of stamping the car’s dramatic sheetmetal and getting the front suspension to function properly beneath its extremely low hoodline.

Controlling the stamping process was a key to preserving the stylists’ intent in the LC500’s lines, Sato explained at the time of the car’s 2016 launch. “Normally the pressing makes some cracks in the sheetmetal if it is too deep,” he noted at that time. By carefully controlling the conditions of the stamping process and determining the correct number of times for the die to strike the metal, Sato’s team came to a workable solution by “trying and trying and trying,” he said.

The LC500’s most critical design aspect is its very low hood. Ideal suspension design for an unequal-length control arm configuration conflicts with the desire for low bodywork. “Normally, a higher upper arm is better for compliance,” said Sato.

Sato’s team solved the problem of marrying the suspension geometry to the sheetmetal with six months of hard work on the problem, he said.

Perhaps it was that tenacity that helped him earn the promotion to the president’s office. Away from work, Sato enjoys driving his classic 1993 Toyota Supra on winding mountain roads. In perhaps typically Japanese fashion, he like practicing the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, but atypically, he also likes listening to the music of John Coltrane. Maybe the ability to balance American Blues music with the Japanese tea ceremony holds the key to balancing between management work as Lexus president and engineering work as the company’s chief engineer.

A 1994 Toyota Supra Turbo similar to Sato’s car. Image source: Toyota Motor Sales, USA

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.


The new 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is an amazing engineering achievement, but previous iterations of the car were pretty cool too.

  • After two years of  building Shelby GT350s based on Ford’s 289 small block-powered Mustangs, in 1967 Shelby rolled out the big block-powered GT500 as a big brother to the GT350. It was powered  by either a Ford 427 or Ford 428, two engines that were similar in size but from different engine families that had different power characteristics.

    The Shelbys grew in size for 1969 and ’70, when Ford bought the rights to Shelby’s products. The GT500 was dormant until 2007, and along the way Ford occassionally applied the name of Shelby’s Cobra roadster to hot rod Mustangs, muddying the waters for casual fans who couldn’t tell whether a Cobra was a classic two-seat roadster or a Mustang with a big engine.

    Since Ford revived the GT500, it has enjoyed continuous improvement to reach the amazing 2020 edition of the car. Ford doesn’t build big block V8s anymore, so the newer Shelbys are differentiated from lesser Mustangs by the addition of a supercharger to pump up the power to GT500-worthy levels.

  • 1967 Shelby GT500. Image source: Ford Motor Co.

  • 1968 Shelby GT500. Image source: Mecum Auctions

  • 1968 Shelby GT500 Convertible. Image source: Ford Motor Co.

  • 1969 Shelby GT500. Image souce: Mecum Auctions

  • 1970 Shelby GT500 Convertible. Image source: Mecum Auctions

  • 1978 Ford Mustang II King Cobra was the closest Ford got to offering a performance car that used Shelby nomenclature during the 1974-’78 Mustang II years. Image source: Ford Motor Co.

  • 1979 Ford Mustang Cobra used a turbocharged four-cylinder in place of the traditional V8. Image source: Ford Motor Co.

  • 2007 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 marked the return of the GT500 name, and with it, a supercharged V8 rated at the 500 horsepower suggested by the car’s name. Image source: Ford Motor Co.

  • 2014 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 saw a power bump to 662 horsepower. Image source: Ford Motor Co.

  • 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 delivers 760 horsepower in an astonishingly easy to drive package. Image source: Ford Motor Co.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

Image souce: Automobili Lamborghini

An advance in super capacitor technology by partners Automobili Lamborghini and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology promises to make this method of energy storage and release even more suitable for fast Italian hybrid-electric super sports cars. The patented technique doubles the energy density of the capacitor compared to the current state of the art, according to Lamborghini.

The new patented material was synthesized by professor Mircea Dincă’s team in the laboratories of MIT’s Chemistry Department with the support of Lamborghini’s Concept Development Department, and it is based on the “Metal-Organic Frameworks” (MOF) concept. The molecular structure of this family of materials makes it the ideal candidate for producing electrodes for high performance supercapacitors of the future, because it maximizes the amount of surface area exposed to electric charge in relation to the mass and volume of the sample.

While the patented material is still in the lab and not in the factory, the company does not see any obvious issues preventing manufacturing production-ready capacitors that use it. “The investigation about production of the technology is at the very beginning, but at the moment we don’t see many obstacles,” Maurizio Reggiani, chief technical officer, told Design News.

Reggiani (left) and Dincă (right). Image source: Automobili Lamborghini

Of course, after manufacturability, the next question with new technology is the cost, though a maker of high-end sports cars is less sensitive to cost than others. “Costs have not been evaluated yet,” Reggiani reported.

Lamborghini has been outspoken in its intention to preserve the auditory characteristics of its signature naturally aspirated V10 and V12 engines despite the industrywide move to forced induction. Instead, the Italian supercar maker will rely on electric boosting to keep its machines competitive with turbocharged rivals’ performance while preserving the shriek its customers love.

But rather than follow the conventional hybrid-electric route, using lithium-ion batteries, Lamborghini is pursuing capacitors for energy storage. “There’re several very interesting characteristics,” Reggiani explained. “The power density, first of all, which makes the capacitors much more powerful compared with batteries — up to three times more power for a given mass — with a symmetrical behavior which makes them able to recuperate as much power as they can deliver.  Under this aspect, the difference with batteries is huge.”

Hidden by this cover is the Sián’s super capacitor. Image source: Automobili Lamborghini

And that’s not the only benefit. “Then, the very low electrical resistance, which means high efficiency and low heat dissipation, and the very long life, measurable in millions of cycles in comparison with the thousands of cycles of the batteries,” Reggiani added.

Lamborghini began its push toward super capacitor hybrids in 2017, with the Terzo Millennio, and most recently with the Sián, which debuted at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. As for when additional such models will arrive and when they will employ this advance in technology, Lamborghini can not say just yet. “It’s too early for both questions. But the evolution of the project up to now has been quicker than expected, so we’re optimistic for the next steps as well.”

Which should be naturally aspirated music to the ears of fans of the traditional operatic V10 and V12 arias by Lamborghini’s supercars.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.


Forget the Age of Aquarius, the 1960s were the Age of Mustang according to these period advertisements.

  • The introduction of the Ford Mustang at the New York World’s Fair in April, 1964 introduced an entirely new category of car to the market: the pony car. This must have inspired Ford’s advertising copywriters to take some additional hyperbolic license, judging from these classic 1960s ads, which have a different flavor from those for the Volkswagen Beetle at the same time.

    They invented a new category of people they called “Mustangers.” And they invented backstories for all kinds of prospective Mustangers, all people whose lives needed a jolt. Young losers hoping to attract mates. Middle-age men facing a mid-life crisis. Sporty women who can shift their own gears (but who keep that skill discrete; it was the ‘60s).

    They invented “The Mustang Pledge,” which seems to be a commitment high-value fun in a car. The Mustang even won the Tiffany Award for Excellence in American Design!

    Alas, even the Mustang couldn’t protect Ford’s copywriters from committing apostrophe abuse. The plural of V8 is “V8s,” not “V8’s.” But we can’t judge people in the past by today’s more enlightened standards. So enjoy these throwback ads for a taste of the ‘60s. (Image source: Ford Motor Co.)

  • Image source: Ford Motor Co.

  • Image source: Ford Motor Co.

  • Image source: Ford Motor Co.

  • Image source: Ford Motor Co.

  • Image source: Ford Motor Co.

  • Image source: Ford Motor Co.

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  • Image source: Ford Motor Co.

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  • Image source: Ford Motor Co.

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  • Image source: Ford Motor Co.

  • Image source: Ford Motor Co.

  • Image source: Ford Motor Co.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.


One of the most consequential aspects of 3D printing is the capability to produce objects that often cannot be manufactured using any other existing technology. At a fundamental level, 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, can consolidate parts in a single assembly. One famous example is the GE Catalyst turboprop engine, where 3D printing enabled the consolidation of 855 parts into 12 assemblies, reducing weight and simplifying the supply chain in the process. At a higher level, the technology allows the creation of “previously unimagined complex shapes,” noted Paul Benning, Chief Technologist for HP Printing & Digital Manufacturing. That creates unprecedented design opportunities, but to take full advantage of them, design engineers need to retool their thought process. “You have a world of designers who have been trained in and grown up with existing technologies like injection molding. Because of this, people unintentionally bias their design toward legacy processes and away from technologies like 3D printing,” said Benning.

3D printing hologram

According to some estimates, more than half of manufacturing employees will require retraining, as 3D printing and Industry 4.0–related technologies enter their workspace. “This effort requires collaboration across industry, academia and government to ensure that future design engineers are prepared for the fourth industrial revolution workforce,” Benning told PlasticsToday. Moreover, there will be a shift in existing roles, he added. “New elements of the design process will be introduced into engineers’ roles—they will need to learn the mechanics of 3D printing to become experts in the processes to support operational functions during production. New roles will also be created, such as reverse 3D engineers, for instances when 3D printing is used to build replacement parts for items that have no digital equivalent,” said Benning.

A shortlist of what design engineers should know about 3D printing, according to Benning, includes:

  • The new wave of design capabilities that allow the creation of previously unimagined complex shapes as well as durable prototypes and end-use production parts.
  • Thinking beyond cost reduction and speed optimization for existing products. The “true potential of 3D printing is realized when engineers can integrate the physics, software, materials and creative thinking around 3D printing to develop products that cannot be manufactured today,” said Benning.
  • In rapid prototyping applications, understanding that 3D printing enables the physical realization of initial ideas in a low-risk process. “Essentially, you can ‘fail faster’ using this technology,” said Benning. “Design changes are easier and learning cycles are faster, so you can use that extra time to create better products.”

Educating budding design engineers and re-training employees to operate effectively in this new environment requires a “holistic” approach that incorporates the supply chain, industrial engineering, materials science and manufacturing, according to Benning. A number of training programs have been established that impart the skill sets needed to shift “from old thinking and tap into new, creative ideas.” One such program, cited by Benning, has been developed at Oregon State University (OSU).

The students and faculty at OSU are working with HP to help translate basic research into technologies and materials, explained Benning. “For example, Oregon State University students are using 3D printing to design and build combustion, electric and driverless cars. The project, a collaborative effort with the University of Pennsylvania and Clemson University, will put one-tenth-scale autonomous cars into the hands of researchers nationwide.” And at Clemson’s College of Engineering, Computing & Applied Sciences, the use of HP Jet Fusion 300/500 series 3D printers are allowing students to see and touch products they have designed and physically test them. It’s this type of hands-on experience that will “teach graduates how to think in 3D, iterate designs and produce future ideas using additive manufacturing,” stressed Benning.

Other universities should follow these examples and “build out programs that foster creative, new ways of thinking and designing,” said Benning. The future of advanced manufacturing depends on it.

Image: Sdecoret/Adobe Stock


The latest reports on the economy show mixed results. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 266,000 non-farm payrolls were created in November, pushing the unemployment rate to a historically low 3.5%. Government data released today showed the United States added far more jobs than expected in November, “relieving concerns that one of the brightest spots in the economy may have started to run out of steam,” said Business Insider in its Markets report.

Profit and loss graphic

Manufacturing employment also increased in November, noted the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM). The sector gained 54,000 jobs, according to the BLS, with the bulk of growth coming from automotive jobs. AAM’s President Scott Paul commented: “With only one month left in 2019, Trump’s promise that manufacturing jobs will boom has sputtered. November’s jobs number was aided by UAW workers securing a new contract and returning to the factory floor.

“Overall, 2019 factory job growth has been incredibly weak, lagging well behind 2018 and underperforming [compared with] the rest of the economy. While there has been periodic bluster about policies to boost infrastructure and stop China’s cheating, no real progress has been made to date. American workers deserve better from the administration and Congress,” said Paul.

Nick Bunker, Research Director at Indeed Hiring Lab, commented to Business Insider, that the high number of jobs added in November doesn’t tell the whole story. “You might forget that the story for most of this year was that the economy was slowing down,” he said. “The slowdown did happen, but we can move into 2020 with a bit more optimism.”

Business Insider reported that while wage growth continued to outpace inflation last month, it “remained stubbornly below what would be expected with an unemployment rate at its lowest level in half a century. Average hourly earnings rose 3.1% year-over-year in November, a slight uptick from a month earlier but short of the peak growth levels seen in early 2019.”

November’s Purchasing Managers Index from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), released on Dec. 2, showed yet another contraction to 48.1 from October’s 48.3. In fact, most of the index measurements were in the “contracting” mode even though the index showed the overall economy “growing.”

New orders for November fell to 47.2 from October’s 49.1. New export orders also fell from 50.4 (growing) in October to 47.9 (contraction) in November. Production’s contraction slowed from October’s 46.2 to 49.1 in November. Inventories contracted faster, from 48.9 in October to 45.5 in November, and customer inventories fell to levels considered “too low,” from 47.8 in October to 45.0 in November. Order backlogs also dropped 1.1% in November to 43.0.

Comments from respondents to ISM’s November survey included this one from a machinery supplier: “Demand has stabilized for the last half of [the fourth quarter], and production will be stable for the rest of this year.”

A respondent from the plastics and rubber products sector commented, “Heading into the holiday season, we are seeing the backlog decrease, as new orders for 2020 seem lighter than in past years.”

A new report from ResearchAndMarkets (Global Plastic Processing Machinery Markets Report 2019: 2017-2018 Data & CAGR Projections 2019-2023), noted that “increasing demand for processed food and beverages, followed by increasing requirements for packaging, is fueling the overall growth in the plastics processing machinery market. The increasing demand for plastics in a variety of applications is expected to fuel growth of the plastics processing machinery global market. Accuracy, reliability, and energy efficiency play an important role in the growth of plastic processing machinery global market.”

Image: Hywards/Adobe Stock


When Jaguar introduced the F-Type sports car in 2013, it was intended as a modern design, but it was also still referencing the classic E-Type of the 1960s, so some of the old car’s flavor carried over. 2013 was a long time ago now, so Jaguar has decided the time is right to leave the past in the rear view mirror and reorient the F-Type to a fully contemporary design.

LED headlight technology has significantly influenced the design of cars since the F-Type was styled. So the most obvious change in the new F-Type’s “face” is the old, almost traditional “eyes” above the front cutline are gone, replaced by narrow slits beneath a line that becomes a furrowed brow. 

Click through the slide show to see all of the other changes to the car and watch the videos below to see the new styling in motion.


Kraiburg TPE is embarking on what it describes as an ambitious campaign to develop custom-engineered thermoplastic elastomers containing variable proportions of renewable raw materials. By developing customer-specific and application-specific compounds using renewable raw materials, Kraiburg TPE is aiming to meet the growing demand for environmentally-friendly and sustainable thermoplastic elastomers.

Kraiburg TPE sees tremendous potential for custom-engineered thermoplastic elastomers with adjustable proportions of renewable raw materials of up to 90%, both in the consumer market and also in the industrial and automotive markets.

Kraiburg points out that “bio” is a broad term that is by no means synonymous with “sustainable” in the sense of a strategy for saving resources and protecting the environment. Because even renewable raw materials also have carbon footprints, as well as water footprints, that can have an impact on the environmental balance, depending on their provenance and the way they are grown. Factors that play a decisive role here include irrigation, fertilizers, transport energy and energy consumed for reprocessing.

“Part of the challenge involves taking into account the environmental balance of the materials’ whole life cycles, including their impact on ecosystems and people’s health,” emphasizes CEO Franz Hinterecker from Kraiburg TPE. “It has also become apparent that what our customers expect from the properties of ‘biomaterials’ varies widely depending on the application – while at the same time we have to meet strict criteria regarding the materials’ conformity and performance.”

Kraiburg TPE’s modular system makes it possible to develop customer-specific materials with different proportions of renewable raw materials. Typical performance characteristics that are also relevant here include mechanical properties such as tensile strength and elongation, as well as processability, heat resistance and adhesion to ABS/PC or PP and PE, for example. The requirements are determined in close collaboration with each customer and translated into a sustainable and cost-effective solution by our developers.

In classical approaches, it is technically possible to produce bio-based materials with very high proportions of renewable raw materials. However, materials of this kind usually suffer from very high raw materials costs, while providing only very limited mechanical properties. However, the modular system has now enabled Kraiburg TPE to resolve this contradiction almost completely by following a new, innovative approach beside the classical one.

The initial pilot projects based on the classical approach are showing a trend towards bio-based, certifiable proportions of 20% and more. Their potential use extends to all TPE applications in the consumer, industry and automotive markets. Examples range from toothbrushes and hypoallergenic elastic watch straps to fender gaskets.

Kraiburg TPE sees tremendous potential for custom-engineered thermoplastic elastomers with adjustable proportions of renewable raw materials of up to 90%, both in the consumer market and also in the industrial and automotive segments.

The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 poses with its 1968 Shelby GT500 forebear. (Image source: Ford Motor Co.)

“It was a lot of blood, sweat and tears from the team,” for the new 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 to achieve its astonishing levels of power, performance and capability, stated chief program engineer Ed Krenz.

The 760-horsepower, 625-lb.-ft. supercharged 5.2-liter double overhead cam V8 engine transfers power seamlessly through a 7-speed Tremec TR-9070 dual-clutch transmission to accelerate the car to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and through the quarter mile in 10.7 seconds. Our own test runs at the LVMS drag strip testing the Shelby’s impressive launch control system produced a pair of 11.4-second runs, so we didn’t spend any more time in pursuit of a few more tenths of a second.

The car boasts an incredible list of top-drawer components, because nothing less would have a chance to produce these results. Those impeccable parts contribute to the car’s astonishing performance numbers. But more important is the integration of those parts into a functional whole that is easy to drive fast thanks to the aforementioned engineers’ blood, sweat and tears.

This is in contrast to similarly powerful ground pounders, most especially the previous-generation 667-hp GT500 and the famously powerful 707-hp Dodge Challenger Hellcat and its 797-horsepower Redeye and 808-hp Demon iterations.

Those are cars that boasted impressive power, but struggled to make use of their muscle. Ford cast the 2014 GT500 as a drag racer, taking journalists to a drag strip to test its mettle but avoiding road racing courses.

Dodge might have followed the example, because while the different versions of the Challenger are all amazingly fast at the strip – the Demon famously finished the quarter mile in less than 10 seconds, earning it a letter banning it from NHRA-sanctioned races for being too fast for a car without a protective roll cage – none of them stop or turn in a way that inspires any kind of confidence. 


Since 1950, approximately 8.3 billion metric tons of virgin plastics have been produced worldwide, the equivalent of 176 million big rigs.

Less than 20% of that plastic has been recycled or incinerated, leaving nearly 80% to accumulate in landfills or as litter in our natural environment. Despite its significant contributions to innovation, the plastics industry has garnered increasing criticism over the years for its environmental impact. In a poll conducted by market research firm Morning Consult in 2018, a majority of people (55%) reported that they did not believe corporations were doing enough to reduce waste that could make it into the environment, and two-thirds of individuals (66%) reported that they would view companies more favorably if they implemented policies to reduce plastic waste.

So, why do we continue to use plastics in the first place?

Alex Hoffer, VP, Hoffer Plastics Corp.
The argument to remove plastics from our way of life entirely is not a feasible option for Alex Hoffer, Vice President of Sales and Operations at Hoffer Plastics Corp.

The technical answer is that plastic has a high strength-to-weight ratio and can be easily shaped into a wide variety of forms that are impermeable to liquids and are highly resistant to physical and chemical degradation. These materials can be produced at a relatively low cost, making it easier for companies to sell, scale, save and so forth. The primary challenge is that the proliferation of plastics in everyday use in combination with poor end-of-life waste management has resulted in widespread and persistent plastic pollution. Plastic pollution is present in all of the world’s major ocean basins, including remote islands, the poles and the deep seas. An additional 5 to 13 million metric tons are introduced every year.

However, consider for a moment the possibility that the plastics industry is doing more good than harm, and that the environmental issues the industry faces have more to do with recycling than production.

Here is how we should be thinking about plastics in 2020.

Plastics and the environment

Austrian environmental consultancy Denkstatt recently conducted a study to determine the impact of farmers, retailers and consumers using recyclable products (wood, tins, glass bottles and jars, and cardboard) to package their goods rather than plastic. What they found was that the mass of packaging would increase by a whopping 3.6 times, and would take more than double the energy to make, thereby increasing greenhouse gases by an astounding 2.7 times.

One common proposal for replacing plastics with different materials is to replace plastic bags with paper ones in grocery stores. While this may sound like a more sustainable solution, the data does not support it. By volume, paper takes up more room in landfills and does not disintegrate as rapidly as plastic. Because of this, plastic bags leave half the carbon footprint of cotton and paper bags.

Plastics and hunger

In my visits to the Northern Illinois Food Bank, I’ve had the honor to serve those in need of access to nutritious food. While helping stock the pantry or pass out holiday baskets, I couldn’t help but notice how food packaging alone impacts visitors’ perceptions. Most of the food at the food bank is canned or jarred, yet it is the plastic-wrapped food that always looks fresher and a little less dangerous.

Now, consider the properties of plastic that make it so attractive: It is durable, flexible, does not shatter, can breathe (or not) and is extremely lightweight. As a result, food and drink are protected from damage and preserved for previously unimaginable lengths of time.