The annual SPE Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE) kicks off this week Sept. 15-16 at the Michigan State University Management Education Center (Troy, Mich.) and again will feature an interactive executive panel discussion, which gathers government and industry leaders to discuss opportunities and challenges for composites in ground transportation and provides audience members with the opportunity to ask panelists their own questions. The panel — entitled "The Role of Composites in the New Automotive Landscape" — caps the first day's technical program, running from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 15.
Given the radical change that has rocked the global automotive industry in the last year, this year's panel promises to be especially energetic and interesting. It will be moderated by Dale Brosius, COO – Americas & Europe, Quickstep Technologies (North Queensland, Australia). (Brosius also served as SPE ACCE conference chair from 2006 through 2008.)
“The global automotive industry has undergone a massive upheaval in the past 12 months, and its future is still a bit cloudy,” notes Brosius. “Major restructurings, ownership changes, and sizable government interventions have all combined with the global-economic crisis to reshape this industry at a pace and on a scale never before seen. When the dust settles, how will the industry move forward to meet the desires of the marketplace for functional, fuel-efficient vehicles? Will the 'new' auto industry be more global or more regional? Is it inevitable that small cars will dominate the market? What options, other than downsizing, exist for achieving higher
fuel economy? Where do plastics — and more specifically composites — fit into spectrum of choices available to automakers?"
Panelists charged with attempting answers to these questions will include Dr. David Cole, chair of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR); Jim deVries, staff technical specialist and manager-Manufacturing Research Department at Ford Motor Co.'s Research Laboratory; Barrie Dickinson, program director and director – Body Engineering for Roadster programs at Tesla Motors; Mike Jackson, director – North American Vehicle Forecasts at CSM Worldwide; Tadge Juechter, chief engineer – Cadillac XLR & Chevrolet Corvette, at General Motors Co.; Dr. Phil Sklad, field technical manager-Lightweight Materials Program, Office of Vehicle Technologies for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The panel will be followed by the conference's traditional networking reception, sponsored by Quadrant Plastic Composites (Northville, Mich.).
For more information about the SPE Automotive Composites Conference, visit the Composites Division Web site at www.4spe.org/communities/divisions/d39.php, or the Automotive Division Web site at www.speautomotive.com/comp.htm.