Burns, Schmidt join tech panel

Key facts
  • What: Automotive News World Congress

  • When: Jan. 14-17, 2002

  • Where: Hyatt Regency Dearborn, Dearborn, Mich.

  • Extras: Gala dinner Wednesday, Jan 16. Tour of the North American International Auto Show Thursday, Jan. 17

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  • The heads of r&d at General Motors and Ford Motor Co. are trying to create the most efficient fuel cell vehicle at the lowest cost.

    Gerhard Schmidt, Ford’s vice president of research, and Larry Burns, vice president of r&d and planning at GM, are part of the panel addressing “The Car of the Future” at the 2002 Automotive News World Congress. They will speak Jan. 15.

    But they are on opposite sides when it comes to implementing a fuel system for hybrid vehicles, which run on hydrogen or a combination of electricity and hydrogen.

    Schmidt thinks a new infrastructure of hydrogen fueling stations will be necessary.

    Burns is working on extracting hydrogen from gasoline, natural gas or methane, in order to use existing gasoline stations.

    But both are trying to integrate cleaner diesel engines into North American vehicles.

    Schmidt heads Ford’s worldwide research organization in Dearborn, Mich., and Aachen, Germany. Before joining Ford in December 2000, the German-born engineer spent 21 years at BMW AG, where he was senior vice president of powertrain development and became senior vice president of vehicle integration.

    He earned a doctorate in engineering from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Aachen.

    Burns came to GM in 1978 and held a variety of engineering positions in the research laboratories before becoming manager of resource planning and production control in 1988.

    He has directed several programs, including transportation systems and materials management.

    Burns was elected a vice president in May 1998. He earned a doctorate in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

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