Making existing vehicle components lighter won’t be enough for car makers to meet tough emissions standards expected in the future, according to the chief scientist at General Motors Canada.
Automakers are going to have to completely rethink how cars are designed in order to cut down on greenhouse gases, said Justin Gammage, who will speak next Monday to the 41st annual conference of the Canadian Science Writers’ Association. The conference will be held in Windsor June 2 to 5.
“We really have to come up with new innovations and new approaches to get to where we need to be on those targets,” said Dr. Gammage, who earned a master’s degree in material engineering from UWindsor in 1999. “The automotive industry has to rise to the test, but it’s going to be a tremendous challenge. I don’t think the general public really appreciates just how difficult those targets are going to be to meet.”
The targets Gammage was referring to are the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. Enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1975, CAFE standards are a way for the government to force the industry to improve fuel economy for vehicles and reduce emissions. By 2016, the average economy standard for vehicles will be 35 miles per gallon and by 2025 it could be as high as 54 mpg. The current average is about 25 mpg.
Gammage, who went on to earn a PhD from McMaster University, manages the company’s external collaborations with academic institutions and government labs at places like CanmetEnergy and Natural Resources Canada. He’ll be participating on a discussion panel devoted to the subject of creating lightweight, environmentally friendly vehicles.
The CSWA is made up largely of science journalists and research communicators all devoted to the cause of sharing great science stories with a broader audience of Canadians. Besides panels devoted to professional development, there are breakout sessions devoted to such diverse themes as climate change, environmental remediation, renewable energy and sustainable manufacturing.
Keynote speakers include Brian Goldman, an emergency room doctor at Mount Sinai in Toronto and the host of CBC Radio’s White Coat, Black Art; Peter Frise, CEO and Scientific Director of the AUTO21 network; Kym Boycott, a geneticist from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario who specializes in rare disorders in children; and Saad Jasim, director of the regional office of the International Joint Commission.