By Lee Stephens
About 25 members and guests attended the second
monthly luncheon for the Southern Automotive Media
Association and heard Eric Kaufman, an engineer in GM’s
Energy Center, talk about the company’s strategy to cope
with automotive energy needs of the future.
GM was the sponsor of the luncheon on April 20 at the
Country Club of Coral Gables.
Kaufman noted that by the year 2020 more than 1.1
billion vehicles – yes, billion – will be in use around
the world, and petroleum-based fuel sources simply are not
going to be adequate to support those kinds of numbers.
Incremental improvements to internal combustion
powerplants, including hybrid-electric vehicles, already are
in progress as the company continues to add to its fleet of
“Over 30 mpg vehicles,” now at 24 for the year 2007.
The next step in GM’s three-prong approach to reduce
dependence on fossil-fuel vehicles are flex fuel vehicles
that are capable of running on gasoline or ethanol-based E85
(85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline). They are followed
by electric vehicles such as the Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid,
and what Kaufman called the “holy grail” of automotive
power, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles such as the Chevy Sequel.
On display outside in the parking lot as Kaufman spoke
were two Saturn Aura Green Line sedans, GM’s first hybrid
passenger car. Kaufman and Peter Barkey from the company’s
Energy Diversity Communications Department also gave media
members a quick walk-around preview for the two vehicles,
which also were available for brief ride-n-drives.
Among business items discussed at the meeting, SAMA
President Ron Beasley announced that Gigi Cerboncini had
come up with six proposals for a logo for the new
organization. Those proposals can be seen on the website,
and members are asked to vote their preference.
Treasurer Bill Adam noted that membership dues are
“trickling” in, and that secretary Jaime Florez --
unable to attend because he was out of the country on
business -- is in the process of completing incorporation
papers for the organization. Adam also has spoken to
officials at Homestead-Miami Speedway about using the
facility for different events that would include a seminar
for SAMA members covering what to look for in evaluating
different kinds of vehicles.
Vice President Paul Borden said he has spoken with
John Kiskinis about SAMA’s participation in the South
Florida Auto Show and will have more information about what
opportunities we can consider at the next meeting.
Details for the May meeting have yet to be worked out,
but the date likely will be around May 24. As noted at the
inaugural meeting, the third Thursday of the month will be
the target date, but we intend to remain flexible. The April
meeting was on a Friday because of conflicts with other
events at the Coral Gables Country Club and auto-related
events earlier in the week.
Please watch your e-mail or visit the website, www.SAMAonline.org
for more information about the May meeting. Suggestions as
to sites for future meetings are welcome.