By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT — (WWJ) The world’s automotive engineers are in Detroit this week for the largest auto conference of the year, the SAE World Congress.

The event, held every year at Cobo Center, is three days of technical presentations, along with an exhibit hall full of new innovations. Some of those will be in the cars of the future, some will never make it.

“Our focus this year is on achieving efficiency,” says Patty Kreh, who’s the business unit leader for SAE conference.

Fuel efficiency is just one part of that, says Kreh, as the auto industry is always looking to become more efficient in many ways.

“We’ve got a lot of things that are focused on achieving those efficiencies, whether that be through fuel economy, emissions, light-weighting, electronics. “

Guest speakers will range from traditional auto industry names like Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, to those who have been antagonistic to the industry, like Mary Nichols who heads the California Air Resources Board. Nichols is opening the conference, Marchionne will speak at the Thursday evening banquet, that wraps everything up.

Kreh says they look for a variety of opinions. And while there is often debate over the means, Kreh says, the end goal is usually the same.

“We all want to have a bright future for ourselves, on this planet, and still be in the mobility industry.”

The SAE World Congress cut back from four days to three, during the depths of the recession. Kreh says the format has worked so well, that they’ve continued with it through the recovery.

And, says Kreh, the SAE World Congress has seen recovery in recent years, and even more recovery for 2013.

“We have more technical papers, more discussions. We have more people registered now. We have brand new companies on the show floor.“


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