Volume 56, Issue 21, October 21, 2008
Appliance News

This issue's lead story:
Austrian Design Student Wins Electrolux Design Lab 2008
Oct. 13, 2008. Stefan Buchberger, from the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria, won the Electrolux Design Lab 2008 competition for inventing Flatshare, a modular fridge with individual compartments for people who live with several roommates. Flatshare consists of a base station and up to four stackable modules. The modules allow each user to have his or her own refrigerator space and can be customized with various colorful skins as well as with add-ons like a bottle opener. Handles mounted on the side make it easy to transport the modules. "I got the idea to create the Flatshare fridge because in many shared flats there is a problem with the refrigerator," says Buchberger. "It gets filthy because no one person feels responsible for cleaning it." The Design Lab 2008 award is a prize of approximately US$7,000 and a six-month internship at one of Electrolux global design centers.


Indesit’s Moon Washer Wins Design Award
Oct. 7, 2008. Indesit Company’s Moon washing machine has been honored for its design by the Industrial Design Department of Politecnico di Milano. The washer was one of 40 products that researchers at INDACO, the department of industrial design, arts, communication and fashion at Milan’s Politecnico, selected as the design objects that have made the biggest impact in terms of technological innovation or design from the 1930s to the present day.

Tecumseh Plant in Dunlap Closing
Oct. 15, 2008. The Tecumseh engine plant in Dunlap, TN, U.S. will start closing down December and will be closed completely in April, according to a Times Free Press report. The plant has about 180 workers. It makes small engines for companies such as MTD, Toro and Lawn-Boy, and other lines that made engines for snow blowers and electric generators. (TimesFreePress.com)

Husqvarna Integrates Four Divisions under One Organization
Oct. 6, 2008. Husqvarna, Dixon, BlueBird, and Yazoo/Kees, will now be housed under one newly formed organization called Husqvarna Professional Products, Inc. It will be headed by Dave Zerfoss who will lead the new, combined team as president. The company will have separate dealer and distributor sales forces for individual brands, but with an integrated leadership approach.  In the new organization, Denis Bedard will be national sales manager for Dixon and Yazoo/Kees, while Jody Kerr will be national rental sales manager for BlueBird and Husqvarna.

Midea Expands Thai Plant
Oct. 14, 2008. Chinese home appliance maker Midea Group has spent US$150 million to expand its production bases to Thailand, Vietnam, and Russia, aiming to drive its manufacturing value to $700 million. In Thailand, the plant at Bang Poo Industrial Estate, Samut Prakarn, has been operating since March. It is now producing electric fans to serve the local market and export to India and Southeast Asia.  Shao Bin, marketing manager of Midea Group, said that apart from fans produced locally, it would import additional products such as rice cookers, microwave ovens, mid-sized air-conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, heaters, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, and some health-care products for the Thai market.


Daiken Acquires Rotex Heating
Oct. 6, 2008. Daikin Europe N.V., a subsidiary of Daikin Industries, acquired Rotex Heating System GmbH. Rotex is based in Germany as well as in Italy and France. It manufactures and sells condensing boilers, floor heating systems, and solar water heaters.

UK Seen Shifting to Autonomous Mowers
Oct. 6, 2008. There will be a paradigm shift to autonomous commercial and domestic gardening machinery in the next two years, at least in the UK, according to Roger Lane, chief executive of the Agricultural Engineers Association (AGA). Lane said that it was a big jump for manufacturers to make, but said they will have to take the risk to keep up with the industry.  Domestic grass cutting in the UK, Lane said, was shifting away from stripes and cut-and-collect methods towards the European mulching method; which will make autonomous domestic mowers more acceptable. 

CE with Wi-Fi to Near $1 Billion by 2012
Oct. 7, 2008. Because of its large installed base in mobile PCs and home networks, flexibility, and mature ecosystem, Wi-Fi is a valued, "Swiss army knife" technology for the consumer electronic (CE) market according to research firm In-Stat. According to Victoria Fodale, In-Stat analyst, "digital TV will be the second largest category of CE stationary devices shipping with Wi-Fi. The sheer volume of digital TV shipments will make it a strong market, despite a relatively low Wi-Fi attach rate."

In-Stat also found that more than 294 million CE devices with Wi-Fi shipped in 2007, the compound annual growth rate for CE Wi-Fi devices through 2012 will be 26%, and by 2011, cellular/Wi-Fi handsets will surpass mobile PCs as the large category of Wi-Fi devices.

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Pending U.S. Home Sales up 7.4% in August
Oct. 9, 2008. Pending home sales in the U.S. increased 7.4% from July to August, according to the National Association of Realtors. Home sales are considered pending when the seller has accepted an offer, but the deal has not yet closed. The Association said that sales are picking up in places that have seen the most severe declines in housing prices—including California, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona, plus Rhode Island and the Washington, D.C. area, said Lawrence Yun, the trade group's chief economist. Still, Yun does not expect home prices to rebound until next year and only expects a modest gain of 2 to 3% in 2009.

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GE Reports Lower Profits
Oct. 13, 2008. General Electric reported 22% lower profits from 3Q 2008, results driven down by its finance business and Appliance operations. Net income dropped to $4.31 billion, compared to profit of $5.6 billion a year earlier. The company said that it remains in the midst of attempts begun last spring to spin off or sell its appliance business by mid-2009.

Sharp Cuts Earnings Forecast
Oct. 8, 2008. Sharp reduced its earnings forecast because of a slump in its domestic mobile phone business. The company cut its operating profit forecast for the year to March 2009 by 33% and said that the economic environment had deteriorated suddenly in the last couple of months. The company said that most of the problems were within Japan, however, and Sharp indicated that television sales remained robust.

Helen of Troy Posts $10.6 Million Net Income for 2Q
Oct. 10, 2008. Second-quarter net income for Helen of Troy totaled $10.6 million, a decline of 42% from 3Q 2007. Net sales in 2Q slipped 2.8% to $153.5 million. On a segment basis, Helen of Troy’s personal-care unit suffered a 10.2% drop in net sales in the second quarter, to $106.4 million. Its housewares sector’s net sales rose 19.6% to $47.1 million.

Intel Reports 3Q Profit
Oct. 16, 2008. Intel Corp.'s 3Q profit rose 12%, but the chip maker cautioned that the pall the financial crisis has cast over the technology sector makes it hard to predict its results for the current period. Profit for the three months ended Sept. 27 was US$2.01 billion. Sales were $10.22 billion, just a 1% increase over last year. The company said that it still expects healthy and relatively unchanged profit margins for the October-December quarter.

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Drummond named President of Whirlpool S.A.
Oct. 6, 2008. Jose A. Drummond Jr., currently president, Appliances, Whirlpool Latin America, was promoted to president, Whirlpool S.A., assuming full leadership in the Latin America Region. Drummond replaced Paulo Periquito. Drummond was also promoted to executive vice president, Whirlpool Corp. Paulo Periquito continues as president of Whirlpool International (Asia, Europe, and Latin America), chairman of Whirlpool S.A.’s Board of Directors, and a member of Whirlpool's Executive Committee.

ECHO Names New President
Oct. 13, 2008. Echo Inc., a manufacturer of outdoor power equipment, announced that effective Dec. 1, 2008, Dan Obringer will become president of the company. He will succeed Yoshi Nagao, who will return to Japan as president of Kioritz Corp., the parent company of Echo. Serving as Echo's vice president and senior vice president of Administration for more than 13 years, Obringer becomes ECHO’s first American president. In addition, Steve Bly will be promoted from senior vice president of Operations to executive vice president.

JVC America Names New CEO
Oct. 9, 2008. Hiro Ishizuka has been named the new president and CEO of JVC Company of America, a division of JVC Americas Corp. Ishizuka, who was promoted from JVC Company of America marketing VP, will be responsible for all operations relating to JVC home and portable consumer products in the United States.

Ricoh Americas Announces Organization Changes
Oct. 14, 2008. Ricoh Americas Corp. announced that Martin Brodigan will become president & CEO of Ricoh U.S., a division of Ricoh Americas Corp. Brodigan has been serving as executive vice president & CFO of Ricoh Americas Corp. He replaces Nori Goto, who will be returning to Japan to assume a new position with Ricoh Company Ltd. Additionally, Dennis Dispenziere was appointed senior vice president and CFO of Ricoh U.S. Recently, he was director of Account Services, corporate controller, and the project leader for implementing the Oracle System at Ricoh. 

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Federal Court Protects New Mexicans’ Access to Affordable HVAC Upgrades
Oct. 8, 2008. A federal district court in New Mexico on Oct. 3 granted a preliminary injunction to stop the city of Albuquerque from enforcing new ordinances that would significantly increase the cost of heating and cooling equipment for consumers seeking to upgrade to more efficient systems.

“Those of us who know the marketplace—the equipment manufacturers, dealers and installers—have discovered that when minimum standards are raised beyond the point at which they are economically justifiable, it results in more repairs and fewer replacements of older, less efficient equipment, therefore saving no energy,” says AHRI president Stephen Yurek. “We could achieve greater energy savings faster, especially in these tough economic times, if we provide incentives for homeowners to upgrade to equipment that meets the federal minimum efficiency standards and take measures to ensure that this equipment is properly installed and maintained.”

The ordinance, which was to become effective for new construction in October and for replacement equipment next July, would mandate a 90% minimum AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) for residential furnaces and a 14 minimum SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) for residential central air-conditioners and heat pumps.

Albuquerque’s proposed minimums exceed federal standards, which require furnaces to achieve at least 78% AFUE and central air-conditioners to achieve at least 13 SEER. The federal minimum standard for central air-conditioners was raised from 10 SEER to 13 SEER and became effective in 2006; the federal furnace standard was raised in 2007 to 80% AFUE, and will become effective in 2015.

The date for the final hearing on the matter will be determined at a court conference in early November. AHRI and other industry associations will continue to educate the city regarding the impacts of the law, as well as alternative opportunities to reduce energy use, such as improving installer training and increasing the number of properly installed systems.

CEA Opens Nominations for 2009 Mark of Excellence Awards
Oct. 6, 2008. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) opened entries for the 2009 Mark of Excellence Awards, presented by CEA’s TechHome Division, to honor outstanding achievement in custom home electronics products, services, and installation. Winners will be announced at an awards dinner on March 13, 2009, during the Electronic House Expo (EHX) Spring 2009, in Orlando, FL, U.S. Award entries will be accepted until Nov. 14, 2008. New sub-categories this year include Best Software Application, Best Universal Design Home and Best Community Home of the Year. To submit products for the 2009 Mark of Excellence Awards program, visit www.CE.org/MarkofExcellence.

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Carrier Launches Rooftop All-Electric AC
Oct. 10, 2008. Carrier Corp. launched the AvantAC All-Electric Air-Conditioning System for the North American market. It’s reportedly the first modular rooftop all-electric system in North America.

The air-conditioner uses aircraft power generation and management technology from another United Technologies subsidiary, Hamilton Sundstrand. The system features multiple, electrically driven, self-contained “plug-and-play” modules installed on a vehicle roof, and employs a belt-driven generator to produce electric power independent of engine speed, rather than using the conventional system of a vehicle engine driving a large refrigeration compressor. Several small compressors for the cooling circuits are located inside the rooftop unit.

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