Manufacturing.net Rewind: Fancy Toilets; Fiat-Chrysler's Tiny Jeep
Check out some of this week's top headlines from across Manufacturing.net, from a high-tech bathroom upgrade to the Jeep that will be made in Italy.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Every so often a revolution transforms something truly basic, rendering the status quo somewhat, well, primitive.
First came covered sewers, then indoor plumbing and flush toilets. Now, one bathroom at a time, another major shift in toilet hygiene is quietly underway. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper — and the need to put one's hands anywhere near the unspeakable — seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. Continue reading... 
Walmart today announced  a concept semi-trailer truck, the Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience (WAVE), which is 20 percent more aerodynamic than the company’s current fleet of trucks.
The vehicle may be a reality — it’s a concept, after all — but Doug McMillon, who is the president and CEO of Walmart, did say the platform allows the company to test out new technologies and approaches to saving gas and reducing emissions for its massive fleet. He added: “By seeing through the lens of sustainability, we are accelerating the pace of innovation across our business.”
WAVE features a “micro-turbine hybrid powertrain that can run on diesel, natural gas, biodiesel and probably other fuels still to be developed,” according to McMillon. There is also a battery storage system and an electric motor. The aerodynamic properties center around a rather novel feature: the driver sits in the center of the vehicle, and not on the left, which means the body can be thinner and tapering, rather than the traditional flat surfaces. The nose is convex, which helps flow air better and gives more cargo space. Continue reading... 
Elon Musk today said that given some of Russia’s recent military maneuverings in Ukraine, it’s about time the U.S. government paid his company, SpaceX, for the rights to launch satellites and other cargo into space. One of the primary choices, at least currently, is the United Launch Alliance (ULA), which is an evenly-held joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
Why is Musk saying it's time to start focusing on SpaceX? Primarily, it's because ULA uses an Atlas V rocket, which is powered in part by a Russian-built RD-180 engine. Those engines are built by EPO Energomash, which used to be part of a design bureau within the Soviet government and is still largely owned by the government. Continue reading... 
The Jeep  Renegade  is, in many ways, symbolic of the divisive merger  between Italian Fiat  and Jeep’s parent company, Chrysler  — it’s a little bit Fiat 500 and a little bit the classic, rugged styling that one might find on a Wrangler. And it could speak to not only the merged companies’ future styling, but also a possible business plan that they hope might be appealing to consumers around the world.
The Renegade is Jeep’s first foray into the small SUV market, but it doesn’t give up on the company’s off-roading pedigree — at least with the Trailhawk model, which comes with Jeep Active Drive Low, featuring a 20:1 crawl ratio. It’s also built with what the company calls a “small-wide 4x4 architecture” for off-road capability and good on-road driving. There are 16 different powertrain options, including the first nine-speed automatic in a small SUV. Continue reading... 
Speaking on CNBC Monday morning, the renowned businessman Warren Buffett , chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said he would approve of a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour — if it hurt nothing else in the economy, which he says isn’t the case. President Obama has recently campaigned for a minimum wage hike to $10.10 , and has even mandated as such for federal contracts. But Buffett would like to see workers paid more — if it didn’t also lead to job cuts.
Buffett said: “If you could have a minimum wage of $15 and it didn't hurt anything else, I would love it. But clearly that isn't the case.” Continue reading... 
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