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Energy Foundation grant brings professor to OU to explore automotive industry, environmental performance

Friday, June 22, 2012
Energy Foundation grant brings professor to OU to explore automotive industry, environmental performance

Within weeks of joining Oakland University’s School of Business Administration (SBA) faculty, Research Professor Walter McManus was sharing his expertise with OU and automotive industry representatives as a speaker at an SBA “Focus on the Future” automotive research conference.

McManus, who was able to join the SBA faculty through a $100,000 grant from the Energy Foundation, spoke about his research on pricing models for alternative powertrain vehicles.

“A few years ago, the automotive industry fought the federal regulations (on boosting energy efficiency requirements for cars and trucks) because they were concerned it would cost too much to be profitable,” McManus says. “But planning and taking all of the costs into account at the beginning of the process – as opposed to ignoring them and updating the vehicles at the last minute – makes it possible to produce better products at a lower cost.”

The SBA received the funding to bring McManus aboard as a research professor in the Department of Decision and Informational Sciences after he and SBA Dean Mohan Tanniru submitted a grant proposal to the Energy Foundation.

“We appreciate the support of the Energy Foundation in helping us bridge the gap between engineering and business, as well as academia and industry, in addressing the important challenge of articulating effective energy policies,” Tanniru says.

The foundation is a partnership of major donors striving to solve the world's energy problems. Its mission is to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy. Grants are directed to the institutions most capable of leveraging change.

Prior to joining OU’s faculty, McManus was a research economist for the University of Michigan and director of its Automotive Analysis Division. His current research focus is the auto industry and how it can improve its environmental performance.

"Dr. McManus brings to the business school a strategic perspective as well as a modeling background, so we can look at the impact of energy policies on the automotive industry,” Tanniru said. “He also helps us build connections with the Clean Energy Center in the School of Engineering and Computer Science and the joint energy management program."