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*In My Humble Opinion, 5/19/15

For this week’s blog, I had the opportunity to chat with Linwood Farmer who is the Vice President of Automotive Testing and Development Services based in Ontario, California.

His company provides emissions and durability testing services to automobile manufacturers world-wide.

Some additional background: Linwood is a graduate of Tulane University in New Orleans with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and also attended San Diego State University where he earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

Prior to joining ATDS, Mr. Farmer served as an Officer in the United States Navy, rising to the rank of Commander.  While in the Navy Mr. Farmer served tours on multiple ships and staffs and was Executive Officer of two commands and served a staff tour with the Royal Navy in London England.

Our discussion as follows:

Dave: Linwood, thanks for agreeing to chat!  So, what is your background with fuels and emissions?

Linwood: Thanks for the opportunity, Dave.  My background is that I have worked for Automotive Testing and Development Services (ATDS) for 20 years as Operations Manager, Senior Program Manager and now Vice President.  I have overseen the installation of a new exhaust emissions test cell, two evaporative test chambers and an engine dynamometer cell.

My responsibilities have included supervising 1000’s of emissions tests for new vehicle certification, manufacturer directed in-use testing and aftermarket performance and replacement parts testing.

Dave:  What types of vehicles?

Linwood: We have tested gasoline, diesel, LPG, CNG, alcohol and electrically fueled vehicles for virtually every manufacturer who has sold vehicles in the US over that period.

Dave: You are most definitely well-qualified and well-versed; Thanks!  What do you feel is the most pressing challenge that our industry faces today?  Anything jump out at you?

Linwood: Yes, a few.

The major challenges we are facing are those brought on by the constant and increasing rate of change of regulations which require laboratories to stay on the cutting edge of technology.  Major investments have to be made to accommodate testing All-Wheel Drive vehicles and vehicles with extremely low emissions.

Greenhouse gas regulations require testing for gases previously ignored, such as Nitrous Oxide, at very low levels, essentially at the limits of detection.

Dave: And based on all that, where do you see the industry heading in the next 1, 3, 5, and 10 years?

Linwood: Like, the automotive industry in general, I expect there will be consolidations as the cost of staying on the curve becomes difficult for small independent labs to afford and forces some of them to join larger multi-national corporations to survive.

ATDS intends to stay independent by focusing on customer service and using our smaller size to stay nimble and productive.  This should allow ATDS to retain our customer base and maintain sufficient margins to pay for the upgrades.

In the longer term the advent of zero emissions vehicles will reduce the amount of traditional testing performed, particularly on in-use vehicles.

Dave: What are you most excited about, regarding “latest trends”?

Linwood: I am extremely interested in plug-in Hybrids as a bridge from the fuel-based transportation industry to a fully electrified one.

ATDS

Dave: And why is that, Linwood?

Linwood: As people see that they don’t really need 30-400 miles range on a regular basis they will become more accepting of lower range BEVs.

Dave: Thanks – good clarification.  So which countries – in your opinion – are most proactive and/or progressive?

Linwood: I feel that Europe and the US have the strongest programs for controlling emissions from vehicles.

Dave:  Any specifics as to why?

Linwood: Yes – their programs are becoming more and more synchronized and harmonized and may lead to a world emissions standard that can be adopted by all developed countries, much as the work in California over the past 50 years has led to the current US Federal standards.

Dave: Which countries have the greatest challenges to overcome?

Linwood: China has a significant issue that must be faced as they grow the number of vehicles in service exponentially.  They have the opportunity to leap-frog the rest of the world but so far seem to be content with old technology and the pollution it brings.  Africa also has huge systemic problems, primarily related to the level of corruption and mis-governence that may take decades to solve.

Dave: What industry publications do you follow?

Linwood: SAE journal, SEMA, various on-line newsletters from NASA, etc.

Dave: What is your most interesting project that you were a part of that you can tell us about?

Linwood: It was very interesting and exciting to run the electric vehicle range tests for the Tesla Roadster and then the Model S sedan.  The Model S ran for over 26 hours on the test cycle and used 4 shifts of drivers to complete.

Dave: That is very cool – not too many people can claim that on their CV! Thanks again for taking time out to share your thoughts, Linwood.  How can people contact you if they have any direct questions?

Linwood: Your welcome – and they can email me at: lfarmer@automotivetesting.com.

Dave: Thanks again.

 

That wraps up this blog edition.  We have several more interviews lined up; should be interesting!

Dave