GM & Enterprise Talk Sustainability & Renewable Fuels at the @DanforthCenter

biofuels and sustainability panel

biofuels and sustainability panel - Reuss left, Taylor center & Gunther right

Monday night I had the chance to hear about some of the key components of corporate sustainability for General Motors and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Leaders of the two companies were at the Danforth Plant Science Center to talk about sustainability efforts at their companies. Having heard a lot of companies talk about sustainability, it was interesting to hear it from another industry. It’s also very interesting to me that both of the gentlemen speak to some of the efforts of the Danforth Center as they have worked together on efforts in biofuels.

GM and Enterprise are pretty familiar to most American households, but my guess is the Danforth Center is a new one for quite a few folks reading this. Its worth your time to read up on the Danforth Center’s research though. They are a non-profit doing research in various areas of plant science that is aimed to benefit the world. I’ve talked to researchers there who are working to improve crops like cassava which could benefit Africa in amazing ways. There are people working on disease resistance and drought tolerance and the topic of the day yesterday was biofuels. 

The Center’s website says: “Renewable sources of energy are a necessity if society is going to thrive in the 21st Century. Danforth Center researchers are using multiple strategies to harness plant-based energy sources that are environmentally sustainable and created in-country.” Listening to GM’s Mark Reuss (president of GM North America) and Enterprise CEO Andy Taylor, I was intrigued by how many different areas of sustainability the two companies were involved in as well as how conversational they kept it. Since I tried to capture much of the event in a live tweetstream, I’m going to paste those tweets in here, hope you find it of interest!

  • Getting ready for #dcegm to start – sustainability panel with GM & enterprise (@ Danforth Plant Science Center) [pic]:
  • You will see tweets from me 🙂 RT @DanforthCenter: Breakdown of tonights hashtag #DCEGM Live webcast- #DCEGM
  • Yes, I am in the room with @marcgunther & the heads of @GM &@enterprisecares at #dcegm
  • Andy Taylor is CEO of @enterprisecares and Mark Reeves heads @GM in North America. They support biofuel research here #biochat#DCEGM
  • At 4 pm, they found out a US federal agency gave the @DanforthCenter a $12mil grant to study biofuel crops AWESOME #DCEGM
  • funny that I sat next to fellow tweeter @claireeckel at the #DCEGM event at @DanforthCenter
  • Getting this underway with intros of the guys here, good fun you should watch the live feed
  • Seems funny as both of these guys have had full careers at their respective firms, both have fam here, enterprise is based in #STL#DCEGM
  • RT @claireeckel: Awesome news: @DanforthCenter just received a $12M grant to study biotech crops and their resistance to drought#DCEGM
  • Enterprise is GM’s biggest customer, lots of jokes on bulk buying, paying too much, etc #DCEGM
  • Mark Reuss says wars fought over oil, the regulatory debate & enviro all told him renewable fuel was a chance to make a difference #DCEGM
  • Gas price will be going up Mid-Size Pickups are made nearby… That could be great, will be renewable fuel friendly. #biochat #DCEGM
  • RT @claireeckel: Where is transportation going in terms of#sustainability? @GM looks 5-10 years in the future to decide. #DCEGM
  • GM North America's Mark Reuss & Enterprise's Andy Taylor talk sustainability

    GM North America's Mark Reuss & Enterprise's Andy Taylor talk sustainability

    Reuss of @GM listens as Taylor of @enterprisecares talks about fuel sustainability #biochat #dcegm

  • Reuss says electric will be in play. Pure electric city focused. Some flex modes. Can improve fuel use 20% wow #DCEGM
  • Reuss says they are looking at all options including compressed natural gas CNG, etc says it could be spectacular #DCEGM
  • Reuss says one challenge is ability to fill tank quickly & safely, another is household fueling for some products #DCEGM
  • For electric you need a charging station. That changes what houses, etc look like. Challenges are exciting to Taylor #DCEGM
  • Taylor has driven a hydrogen cell fueled vehicle. This #agnerd would love to do that! #biochat #DCEGM
  • Enterprise is privately owned… There are benefits to that. 🙂 jokes cause GM’s Reuss is constrained by public disclosure regs #DCEGM
  • Reuss says gas prices will be going up, people continue to look more at fuel when buying a new. Avg age of cars is 11 yrs today #DCEGM
  • Taylor wants a customer-chosen system vs a government-chosen system. #DCEGM
  • By 2025, fed reg require fuel ratings go to 50 mph from 25 #DCEGM
  • Lots of personal preference can impact fuel efficiency, passenger capacity is a big deal (I drive a small car FYI) #DCEGM
  • Enterprise has had people refuse a car upgrade because it is hard to turn over a fleet, accd to Taylor #DCEGM
  • Taylor has driven electric cars and found them satisfactory, it has a fit. Reuss’ daughter taking one to college this year #DCEGM
  • .@GM will sell 20k electric cars in 2012, has incredibly high consumer satisfaction @MarcGunther asks “third party research” #biochat#DCEGM
  • The Spark car is small, coming out now in gas and then will have electric version the next year. Gas is about 13k. Good for kids #DCEGM
  • RT @RizzoTees: Mark Reuss of @GM – the Chevy Volt has the highest owner satisfaction of any car in America (94% per JD Power) #DCEGM#DCEGM
  • Relationship of GM & Enterprise “it isn’t just buying & selling cars”#DCEGM
  • Car sharing is becoming more popular in cities, etc. GM is not sure, there are questions around insurance, etc needs to know more #DCEGM
  • Taylor said he will be a petri dish on it. There are a few places where they are trying a few different ways. #DCEGM
  • Taylor expects today’s car rental & car sharing will merge and move us forward in the future. Reserve with cell phone & go #DCEGM
  • Onstar could be an entry into the sharing technology. Remotely open the doors important. #DCEGM
  • GM has out 6 million flex fuel cars on the road. That is a great fit for energy & convenience. #DCEGM
  • Question about contrasting US to rest of the world in terms of auto sustainability? Reuss says we are behind #DCEGM
  • Reuss says artificial low cost of gas puts US behind. Other countries have energy policy & infrastructure to build from #DCEGM
  • Reuss says he doesn’t want to be heavily subsidized but need more balance #DCEGM
  • An enterprise employee was once arrested in Germany for throwing away trash at a gas station w/o separating #nojoke #DCEGM
  • What about sustainability and expectations of others in the supply chain? Taylor says it is moving to more expected each year #DCEGM
  • Seems several tweeps are on the fourth row… A couple of us are a few rows back & to the center 🙂 #DCEGM
  • Mark Reuss General Motors Chevy Volt

    Mark Reuss of General Motors with the Chevy Volt

    What should government do? Reuss says focus on manufacturing could help, too much imported

  • Coming out of the economic issues? Taylor says its clear many businesses are losing money, Europe blowback questionable #DCEGM
  • Taylor said companies have retooled, they actually had cutbacks at one time, everything is cautious #DCEGM
  • Reuss says he agrees. We cannot have sustainable economy without producing some here. Symbolic of caution, joblessness an issue #DCEGM

It seems most Americans like cars, we have a different relationship with them than most of the world. Like our homes, we tend to think size matters. That certainly impacts the sustainability profile as does the types of fuel used. As I left, so was Mark Reuss and I couldn’t resist snapping a quick photo of him closing the hood on the Chevy Volt so he could get on his way. The Volt is an electric car that looked pretty cool — and I forget how quiet they are. Next time I buy a car, I am going to have to give serious thought to a vehicle with new fuel options. In the meantime, I think I’ll keep a close eye on the Danforth Center…. am really interested in what all else they have going on. You can too following the Center’s blog and their Twitter feed. You can also check out the various blogs GM has.

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About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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