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Road to AAPEX S2E8: Paving the Way for Automotive Innovation

The more things change, the more they may stay the same.

The innovation of the Lincoln Highway wasn’t just about building roads — it was about putting them on the map. The Wyoming Historical Society notes that the abandoned routes laid down by the Union Pacific railroad from 1867 to 1869 were often the best, and sometimes the only, east-west path available when developing the Lincoln Highway. In fact, staying so close to the rail line meant that the Lincoln Highway had about 100 crossings of train tracks throughout the state.

It’s a reminder that innovation, while billed as new and unique, is often built on what came before — the paths carved by other innovators. While Babcox Media’s Joe Keene, an ASE-certified technician who fixed up a rare Lincoln Blackwood (with the help of the automotive aftermarket), drives across the country via the Lincoln Highway in time for AAPEX 2023, David Sickels, Babcox Media editor, connects with a few of today’s automotive industry innovators and discovers that the more things change, the more they may stay the same.

“EVs are still going to need fluids,” noted John Noal, executive vice president, D-A Lubricant Co. “They need fluid for cooling batteries—removing the heat. They need brake fluid. They’re going to need fluid technology to get more life out of the batteries.

“And while EVs are going to continue to grow, internal combustion engines are going to be a major part of the market — it’s not going away anytime soon,” Noal continued. “The balance we have as manufacturers is to continue to develop technology for the internal combustion engines to make sure that we can meet the demands of fuel economy, emissions and engine reform.”

There’s even innovation in how industry relationships can help companies be successful as they support today’s customers and help them grow into the world of tomorrow.

“We’re working with our customers, and it’s not a transactional relationship. It’s a true partnership,” noted Michael Schwab, president and chief executive officer, Niterra (the new name of NGK Spark Plugs). “We work with them much like we have through the years on spark plugs and sensors in ways that we can apply our technology to components they need for their vehicles.”

Watch the video to see how far automotive innovation has brought us to get to where we are today, and where it might take us tomorrow.

Check out the previous episodes here:

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