Materials Prices on the Rise – Buyers Beware?

Just weeks ago, the electronics supply chain wasn't too worried about price increases, with the possible exception of tantalum capacitors. The global supply of tantalum has some uncertainty attached to it because of movement away from so-called “conflict minerals.” (See: The Great Congo Paper Chase and Tight Supplies, Tantalums & 2011.) Within the past few…

Electric Vehicle Battery Brouhaha

Whoever thinks electric car lithium-ion batteries aren’t sexy probably hasn’t seen recent headlines popping up from Paris to Singapore to Sydney to Washington. Sounding more like a Hollywood big-screen spy thriller than real-life drama, French automaker Renault SA last week suspended three managers suspected to be involved in industrial espionage and leaking electric vehicle secrets.…

Which Direction Is the US Economy Headed?

Planning for the year ahead is going to require a very strong stomach for all players in the US economy, including the high-tech sector, which has become very tightly woven into the larger consumer, manufacturing, and services markets over the last 10 years. The equity market continued to stomp upward, with the major indices steadily…

An Acquisitive New Year?

Earlier this week, {complink 453|Arrow Electronics Inc.} completed its acquisition of {complink 3916|Nu Horizons Electronics Corp.} In December, {complink 577|Avnet Inc.} gave analysts an update on its integration of {complink 671|Bell Microproducts}, which Avnet acquired late last year. While the distribution industry hasn't begun to approach the pace of consolidation it saw in the 1990s,…

Tapping the Sahara for Europe’s Energy Needs

The search for renewable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly energy is taking European energy companies to Africa. Apparently, just the desert section of the region — once derided as the Dark Continent — receives enough light from the sun on a single day to power the entire world's electricity need for an entire year. But delivering…

Powering the Nissan Leaf, Part 2

A couple of months before the test drive event our house was surveyed by an electrical contractor as part of the Nissan Leaf program. A charging station needs to be installed at your home, but there is a government incentive covering the basic cost for $1,200. I thought this should not be a problem. There…

Getting Charged Up With the Nissan Leaf, Part 1

Automotive is an important market for semiconductor vendors. In turn, the chip industry has enabled car manufacturers to make major improvements in safety and performance — and move toward more environmentally friendly vehicles. Even though the number of vehicles manufactured grows by low single digits, the amount of electronics per vehicle keeps increasing. In 2008…