Tomorrow's cars today
by Matt Terry
May 10, 2012
Ali Emadi's goal is to design the car of the future - and he wants to do it in Hamilton.
One of the world's leading researchers in electric powertrain - the group of parts that generate power and transfer it to the road surface - Emadi was recruited from the U.S. in 2010 to lead McMaster's Institute for Automotive Research and Technology, known as MacAUTO.
The institute has yet to move in to its home in the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre, under construction at the McMaster Innovation Park, but it already boasts the largest group of automotive technology researchers on the continent.
Emadi's team consists of 200 researchers working on everything from hybrid and electric powertrains and automotive computer software to lightweight materials design and manufacturing. With $150 million in program funding, Emadi hopes to make McMaster a hub for those bringing new sustainable transportation technologies to market, revitalizing Canadian manufacturing in the process.
"The big question is: 'What's next?' I think the biggest challenge of our time is energy and sustainability," he said. "In this century, we'll see a monumental paradigm shift in transportation and electric power, similar to what we've seen in IT. This is very exciting because the impact will be much bigger than in IT."
Emadi, who holds the $10 million Canada Excellence Research Chair in Hybrid Powertrain, spoke to a number of automotive journalists about the future of electric cars at an event on campus Thursday morning.
The group stopped at McMaster with more than 20 vehicles - hybrids, electric battery- powered and those with advanced internal combustion engine technology - which they are driving across the region, from Brighton to London, Ont.
The event, hosted by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, is intended to demonstrate consumer-ready electric and hybrid vehicle technology to the public.
The McMaster Automotive Resource Centre, slated to open in 2013, will be located in a former appliance warehouse across the street from the Innovation Park's Atrium building on Longwood Road.
More than 20 hybrid and electric were parked outside University Hall Thursday morning as part of a regional tour of green auto technology. Ali Emadi, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Hybrid Powertrain, took the opportunity to speak with automobile reporters about MacAUTO and the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre. Photo by Matt Terry.
The centre's approximately 80,000 feet of space will be occupied by hundreds of staff and will include some of the most advanced automotive testing facilities in the world. High-tech equipment located there will allow the team to test powertrain technology and provide partners with data needed to accelerate commercialization. "It was McMaster's reputation in sustainable automotive research that drew me to Hamilton," said Emadi. "The University's vision and the government's commitment to develop the automotive centre will only enhance that reputation and our ability to conduct the kind of research that will provide solutions for industry and policy-makers."