Inforum NAIAS Auto Show Breakfast 'Beyond Green: Unraveling the Sustainability Mystique'


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DETROIT, Jan. 3, 2008 -- President George W. Bush recently signed legislation that will bring more fuel-efficient vehicles into auto showrooms and require increased use of ethanol. This legislation has been called "a major step" toward energy independence with a focus on easing global warming, but what will it mean to auto producers, automotive suppliers and consumers? Bringing together leaders from strategic auto industry sectors, the Inforum NAIAS Auto Show Breakfast on Wednesday, January 16, will provide an in-depth discussion of future sustainability trends.

The new fuel economy regulations require automakers to increase fuel efficiency by 40% to an industry average of 35 miles per gallon (mpg) for passenger cars, SUVs and small trucks by 2020. The standard for cars today is 27.5 mpg and for trucks and SUVs 22.2 mpg. This legislation will clearly impact the way sustainable vehicles are designed and brought to market.

Other factors that continue to evolve in driving the transformation of the automotive market are consumer expectations and the purchase power -- thus the influence -- of women in the auto-buying market.

According to Terry Barclay, president and CEO of Inforum, the largest professional women's organization in the Midwest, "Women's purchasing power dominates many products and services. Today women purchase more than 45% of all new vehicles. It is estimated that by 2012, women will buy nearly seven million new vehicles each year."

"It's critical for auto manufacturers and dealers to recognize what influences women's buying decisions," Barclay noted. "Women are increasingly well educated and informed about global issues which is influencing their buying practices."

Emerging technology and awareness of green issues is changing "nano- practices" that correspond with how consumers choose to behave and make buying decisions, according to Catherine Greener, vice president of ACT NOW and Inforum NAIAS Auto Show breakfast presenter. She's found that consumers' choices indicate they are beginning to select vehicles for reasons that go beyond "because it's what I want to drive." People are looking at the bigger picture of how their buying decision will impact others and the world around them.

Consumers are increasingly concerned with the environmental impact, or footprint, made by a product or its producer. Barclay said that Inforum is pleased to have BASF as the signature sponsor of the "Beyond Green" Auto Show Breakfast "because for BASF, sustainable development means combining business success, environmental protection and social responsibility."

"For example," Barclay noted, "one of BASF's sustainable technologies, from its world class Catalysts Division, has eliminated a billion tons of air pollution since the mid 1970s. BASF is the world's largest chemical company. And while you may not immediately equate a chemical company with sustainability, as I've learned more about BASF through their support of Inforum, I've been pleasantly surprised."

According to Charlene Wall, leader of Strategic Business Development for BASF Corporation, and Auto Show Breakfast presenter, "BASF does not just pay lip service to the principle of sustainable development. We believe in committing resources and developing expertise to ensure we're contributing to our collective journey wherever we can. We contribute by constantly and consistently measuring, monitoring and reducing our impact on the environment.

"Many BASF contributions to sustainability are found right here in Detroit. BASF is a major supplier to the automotive industry in the areas of automotive coatings; catalyst technologies; plastics and polyurethanes for automotive seating, interiors, exteriors, drive chain and chassis; automotive textiles; and fuel additives to name a few."

Sustainability issues are not new to automakers. Ford recently unveiled its blueprint for sustainability, outlining a near-, mid- and long-term strategy to meet the challenges of energy independence and climate change. Sue Cischke, Ford Motor Company's senior vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, said Ford is investing heavily to develop the technologies that will satisfy customer and society demands. "Fuel economy is at the top of our list because it is at the top of our customer's list. For us, the vision for success is clear. We must achieve the most economically efficient CO2 reductions possible. Whatever we do must be affordable for our customers and our business."

To learn from industry experts about factors to consider when purchasing a "green" vehicle and what changes businesses may need to make to "go green," attend the Inforum NAIAS Auto Show Breakfast "Beyond Green: Unraveling the Sustainability Mystique."

  Date: Wednesday, January 16, 2008
  Time: 7 a.m. Networking/Registration; 7:30 a.m. Hot Breakfast/Presentation

Location: Detroit Marriott -- Renaissance Center, 4th Floor -- Columbus Ballroom, 100 Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI 48243

PANELISTS: Charlene Wall, Leader of Strategic Business Development for BASF Corporation; Sue Cischke, senior vice president -- Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, Ford Motor Company; and Catherine Greener, vice president -- Consulting, ACT NOW.

MODERATOR: Michelle Krebs, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com.

Tickets: Member, $40; Non-Member, $50 (Add $10 after Jan. 11, 2008) Tables of 10 may be purchased for $400, which includes special recognition at the event.

Register at www.inforummichigan.org or 313.578.3230.

The Inforum NAIAS Auto Show Breakfast is presented by Inforum, a professional organization with the mission to strengthen the business environment by creating opportunities for women to lead and succeed. Founded as the Women's Economic Club in 1962 in Detroit, Inforum now has more than 2,200 members and offices in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing, Mich. For more information, visit www.inforummichigan.org or call 877.633.3500.

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