Gentlemen, Scrap Your PowerPoint

Minoru Shinohara, senior vice president at Nissan, captures automotive’s frustration over the power industry's slow adoption of smart-grid technologies.

Auto makers such as Nissan, General Motors, Ford and Toyota are investing millions of dollars to bring electric vehicles to market.

Yet, the rollout of electrical grids that would act on information from users to optimize distribution efficiency, reliability and low-cost pricing to make EVs a more sensible investment lags behind.

Stop talking and start doing, Shinohara says. "No more PowerPoint presentations," he pleads. "Let's do it, even if it is small scale."


Almost Like Good Old Days

The economy still is sluggish, but you wouldn’t know it at the SAE World Congress. While the show floor is considerably smaller than it once was, on Wednesday for the first time in several years, the event seems genuinely crowded.

It almost looks like the good old days, minus the pocket protectors.

Hoards of visitors are prowling the aisles and it seems just about every company exhibiting is hiring. Out front in the lobby, 50 small booths from suppliers and auto makers such as Nissan, Volkswagen and Toyota all are trying to recruit engineers.

FEV, an engineering consulting company that helps auto makers develop new engines and meet fuel-economy and emissions rules, has one of the larger booths on the show floor.

Echoing many others, President Gary Rogers says business is good. He is looking to add 50 to 100 new staffers to the company’s 2,200 engineering workforce.


Not Engineered Here

Richard Gezelle, who heads regulatory affairs in the U.S. for hybrid-bullish Toyota, exchanges friendly jabs with Scott Miller, president of the market research firm Vision Critical, during a panel on the implications of new federal fuel-economy standards.

Miller cites a recent study from one of his competitors showing hybrid-electric vehicle re-purchases at a weak 35%, saying it's evidence Americans think the cars are impractical.

Gezelle draws laughs with his textbook response, "We think the study's methodology is flawed."

Counters Miller: "Real quick, we did not do that study."