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Research professor shines national spotlight on SBA

Friday, June 1, 2012
Research professor shines national spotlight on SBA

Through extensive research into vehicle energy management, SBA Research Professor Walter McManus is widely recognized for his leadership and expertise in the behavioral aspects of energy transportation.

McManus recently collaborated with frequent research partners Alan Baum and Dan Meszler on the report “Fuel Economy Focus: Perspectives on 2020 Industry Implications,” which predicts the U.S. auto industry overall would see a 5.3% ($4.7 billion) increase in profits in 2020 if the new proposed fuel-economy and emissions standards take effect. It also notes the Detroit Three are likely to realize the greatest profit boost.

“The reason we see these increased benefits for American automakers is because compared to foreign automakers they are currently more heavily invested in lower mileage trucks and cars,” says McManus, who conducted the sales and profit analysis for the report. “Under these standards the Detroit Three would have a greater potential to add customer value to those vehicles with improved fuel economy.”

The report, sponsored by Citi Investment Research and Analysis and Ceres, generated more than 300 news reports nationwide, many quoting McManus and noting his affiliation to OU’s SBA.

A partial list of media that covered the report includes BloombergBusinessweek, Politico, WJR Radio in Detroit, KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, IndustryWeek, FleetOwner, Green Car Congress, Hybridcarblog, AutoNet Financial, EnviroBusinessInsight, Sacramento Business Journal, KNX Newsradio CBS in Los Angeles, and E&E Publishing.

High caliber, relevant research

“It’s exciting to see Professor McManus and the SBA mentioned in so many publications,” says Mohan Tanniru, SBA dean. “It raises awareness of the caliber of the SBA faculty and the considerable relevance of their research overall.”

In addition to his work on this report, McManus received a $100,000 grant from The Energy Foundation to support his research as it relates to federally mandated fuel efficiency standards to assist in the development of public policies and strategies. He is also working with auto companies to help them implement fuel economy and clean technologies as quickly as possible.

Automakers are receptive to new fuel economy standards, which could reach 54.5 miles to the gallon by 2025. “There is not a lot of opposition now, which has enhanced my ability to work with the auto companies,” he says.

The proposed standards do meet with resistance from other industry representatives, including the National Auto Dealers Association, McManus adds. “I’m trying to address their concerns, understand them and respond.”

Assisting business, government and community

McManus is in the early stages of another project: Developing tools that will allow auto companies to assign value to new technologies, which will help them with their investment decisions in this area.

An acknowledged expert, McManus offers his expertise to legislators. He has testified before Congress on fuel economy standards and at public hearings held by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The opportunity to explore fuel economy standards in-depth has been a gratifying experience. “The satisfying part, for me, is participating in the public debate on this topic,” he says.

By Flori Meeks