GM Forum Addresses Reinvention of the Automotive Industry through Technology Innovation
* GM leads the development of next-generation powertrains to meet the need for efficient and diverse energy sources
* Smartphones transforming interaction with vehicles: GM’s innovative technologies will make future cars safer, smarter, and more convenient
* Enhancing the innovation system, getting ready for the “power play” in the future
Shanghai – General Motors hosted the Technology Solutions - Roadmap to Reinvention forum today at the SAIC-GM Pavilion at World Expo 2010 Shanghai. The fifth installment of GM’s “Drive to 2030” Sustainable Urban Mobility Forum series brought together experts from related fields to present their views on a range of urban challenges that will impact future transportation. Participants discussed how these challenges continue to inspire technological innovation, how to promote alternative energy sources, and the different roles that individual stakeholders can play in realizing sustainable urban mobility.
Over the past four months, GM has hosted four forums: the Pathway to Sustainable Mobility forum, the Mobility Internet - Connecting the Virtual Superhighway forum, the Electrification - Plugging into the Future forum, and the Design - Sketching the Road to Tomorrow forum. From future urban mobility to future transportation tools, the series has been addressing tomorrow’s transportation challenges and various solutions for overcoming them.
“GM is dedicated to the development and application of innovative solutions to meet future needs,” said Kevin Wale, President and Managing Director of the GM China Group. “Through our first four ‘Drive to 2030’ forums, we have demonstrated GM’s achievements in connectivity, electrification and automotive design. Today, at our fifth forum, we are showcasing GM’s innovative technology solutions that we are implementing today, tomorrow and in the future.”
GM leads the development of next-generation powertrains to meet the need for efficient and diverse energy sources
For nearly 100 years, petroleum has been the primary fuel for automobiles. It continues to power about 96 percent of vehicles. Globally, over 35 percent of today’s energy needs are met with petroleum. Meanwhile, overall energy demand is steadily increasing by about 2 percent per year. Rising oil consumption is putting increasing stress on supplies, resulting in higher costs and price volatility.
During today’s forum, Daniel Hancock, GM Vice President for Strategic Product Alliances, pointed out that a single solution for meeting all needs is not likely within the next 20 to 30 years. He said GM’s vision of sustainable urban mobility in 2030 is founded on reducing petroleum dependence by diversifying energy sources and improving propulsion technology efficiency.
According to Hancock, in addition to electrification, which shows great promise, GM has been exploring other forms of energy. For example, a wide range of liquid fuels can be used to power a variety of propulsion systems. They include conventional gasoline and diesel fuel, synthetic fuels and bio-fuels. GM’s advanced technologies support the coexistence of these fuels. He also mentioned that GM is the global leader in flex-fuel vehicles. It is committed to making more than half of its vehicle production flex-fuel-capable by 2012. Looking to the future, said Hancock, electricity and hydrogen have the potential to be important transportation fuels. GM has launched the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended-range capability and the hydrogen fuel cell-powered Chevrolet Equinox, marking a major step toward realizing GM’s “zero pollution, zero emissions” goals for 2030.
Hancock mentioned that a large array of advanced technologies will ensure GM’s leadership in making existing powertrains more efficient. For example, GM’s HCCI (homogeneous-charge compression-ignition) technology can increase a vehicle engine’s fuel economy by 15 percent while meeting future emissions standards. GM products that use advanced technologies – such as the Chevrolet Spark, Chevrolet Aveo, Buick New Regal and new Buick LaCrosse – are leaders in their respective segments in fuel efficiency and emissions. Over the past five years, the average fuel efficiency of GM’s passenger car lineup in China has improved 20 percent, which is much higher than the industry average. GM announced last month that it will work together with its partner, SAIC, to co-develop a new small-displacement gasoline engine family and an advanced transmission that can reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions by 20 percent compared with traditional powertrains.
Smartphones transforming interaction with vehicles: GM’s innovative technologies will make future cars safer, smarter, and more convenient
Alan Taub, Vice President of GM Global Research & Development, said the automaker has an extensive global R&D footprint. All eight of its R&D facilities have adopted a “center of expertise” approach to ensure the independence of their activities. GM has also created collaborative research labs with leading universities around the world to carry out research on specific areas of strategic interest to GM. Their aim is the development of future-oriented technologies that will increase GM’s global technological influence on an ongoing basis. In addition, GM is cooperating with experts from industry research institutions, government labs and other OEMs – including HRL, the U.S. Department of Energy and Delphi. This innovation philosophy is helping to gradually change the DNA of today’s motor vehicles.
Making vehicles safer and smarter is one of the directions in which GM is headed. By integrating Google’s Android mobile operating system into the Chevrolet Volt’s OnStar in-vehicle communications system, GM has created a smart mobility environment that merges the smartphone with the automobile. OnStar can obtain many apps from Android, including Google Maps’ interactive voice feature and the anti-theft function. Users can not only control the charging of the Volt with a smartphone, but also plan the best travel routes. This has the potential to help relieve urban congestion.
Robonaut2, an advanced humanoid robot developed as part of a joint technology partnership between General Motors and NASA, utilizes leading-edge sensors, vision, and control technology. This advanced technology will help GM create a safer and more competitive factory environment. The R2 technology will also help GM speed up the development of advanced active vehicle safety systems.
In addition, GM has achieved remarkable results in the development of smart materials. Shape memory alloys and polymers are examples of types of smart materials that GM is developing for use in its products. Smart materials can change their shape, strength, and/or stiffness when heat, stress, or electrical voltage are introduced. Shape memory alloys, and polymers in particular, “remember” their original shape and can return to it, opening new possible technology solutions for many movable vehicle features and parts. GM is rapidly moving to introduce this technology.
Enhancing the innovation system, getting ready for the “power play” in the future
During today’s forum, Helmut List, Chairman and CEO of AVL List GmbH, said that increasing energy prices and the impact of emerging markets have placed new demands on “individual mobility.” He expressed the belief that the sophisticated optimization of the overall efficiency of mobility and the future “energy vector” is required, and the ability for short time-to-market response is needed in a highly dynamic environment where greater degrees of freedom are being demanded. He said this can be achieved only through the intelligent modularity of the entire powertrain that includes all five major elements: internal combustion engines, transmissions, electric motors, batteries and control systems. It also needs to incorporate advanced model-based development processes. GM’s achievements in increasing the efficiency and diversification of future energy sources as well as its leading innovative technology solutions can help improve powertrains, according to List.
Meng Guang, Vice President of the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology and the Shanghai Bureau of Astronautics, and Professor of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), expressed his appreciation at the forum for GM’s innovative model of collaborating with academic institutions. He said the GM-SJTU Automotive Institute has played a very important role in the development of China’s innovation system. According to Meng, it has combined GM’s global automotive industry technology leadership with SJTU’s research strength in automotive technology to become a center for training top talent for the automotive industry both in China and around the world. He pointed out that the development of the innovation system has made a significant contribution to China’s “Project 211,” “Project 973” and “Project 863,” which have been implemented in recent years.
The “Drive to 2030” Sustainable Urban Mobility Forum series is addressing urban mobility issues and facilitating comprehensive analysis and discussion of the prospect and feasibility of sustainable mobility from multiple perspectives, including the business role, policy incentives, urban planning, new energy and technology innovation. Topics include: The Pathway to Sustainable Mobility; Mobility Internet - Connecting the Virtual Superhighway; Electrification - Plugging into the Future; Design - Sketching the Road to Tomorrow; Technology Solutions - Roadmap to Reinvention; and World Expo and Sustainable Automotive Industry Development.
General Motors, one of the world’s largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 208,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 120 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 31 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, FAW, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM is the joint global automobile partner of World Expo 2010 Shanghai along with SAIC. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com.
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