Monday, January 22, 2007

I sing the auto body electric

Now that I've narrowed the region, but broadened the scope, of my coverage, I'm still finding myself dipping into my nanotech experience as I cover a broad array of topics -- primarily involving the late great auto industry here in Detroit.

In my column at Michigan Business Review this week -- yeah, it's called TechTonic, just couldn't come up with anything better -- I discuss the "story behind the story" of General Motors' decision to revive the electric car, along with some news of local interest involving Ford's renewed investment in six Michigan auto plants to convert them to "flexible manufacturing" facilities.

I think it all comes down to the spirit of Henry Ford at last returning to Michigan. The idea is not just to make cars, but to own the frame, or template, onto which all current and future cars will be modeled. I learned this through my coverage -- from the inside and out -- of the pharmaceutical industry, where the goal is not to come up with the next blockbuster drug, but rather to invent the "drug delivery vehicle" that carries any one of a number of targeted, timed drug therapies.

I did not include this in the column, but I also think of Donald Tomalia and his dendrimers. Tomalia, also a Michigander, has ever since he invented the tendriled molecules a couple of decades ago at Dow, always dreamed of a kind of Periodic Table of Dendrimers, where his molecule can serve as the basic frame for almost limitless possibilities and products.

Must be something in the Michigan air that gives us delusions (aspirations?) of grandeur.

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