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Issues Of The Environment: The State Of Researching Sustainable Vehicle Technologies

Jan 24, 2018

Anna Stefanopolou, Automotive Research Center Director at the University of Michigan and Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
Credit University of Michigan / umich.edu

The North American International Auto Show is underway in Detroit, and automakers have used this to announce major developments in advancing cleaner automotive technology.  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair talks to Anna Stefanopoulou, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Automotive Research Center Director at the University of Michigan, about what she thinks about these developments.


Overview

   ·  Over 300 exhibitors will showcase their 2018 offerings at Cobo Center during the North American International Auto Show, through January 28. 

   ·  The full-size pickup truck has been the central focus for 2018, despite the hype about autonomous vehicles and EVs.  All the major automakers voiced commitments to continue to refine and develop these technologies, but there are few new offerings.  Low oil prices and high profit margins for conventional trucks are driving the market for heftier pickup trucks, over lighter, smaller vehicles with cutting edge technology. 

   ·  Many of the popular truck lines, including Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler have made improvements that improve fuel economy.  She says that these changes can add up to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. 

   · Battery costs are steadily declining, and the internal combustion engine faces increasingly strict regulation.  The EV segment comprises less that 1 percent of annual deliveries in the U.S., but global demand is expected to rise as governments phase out gasoline and diesel engines and batteries reach price parity with traditional powertrains.  Although this year’s show has downplayed EVs, many automakers are investing.  Ford, for instance, has doubled its spending for EV development. 

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu