David E. Cole is Chairman of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) and a management partner at the Altarum Institute. He was formerly director of the Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation (OSAT) at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).

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David Cole, who is widely considered a national expert on the automotive industry, is stepping down as chairman of the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research, the nonprofit announced this afternoon. Jay Baron, CAR's CEO and president, will become chairman. Cole is receiving the title of emeritus chairman.

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Professional files relating to his activities as the director of the Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation (OSAT) and his consulting work. The collection is arranged in nine series: University of Michigan; Associations and Government; Company Files; Correspondence; Research; Speaking Engagements; Publications, Papers and Clippings; Topical Files; and Audio-Visual Materials. Of particular interest are the Company Files and Association and Government series, which document Cole's consulting activities for various companies and organizations such as General Motors, Johnson Controls and Ernst & Young, and his involvement in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The University of Michigan series documents Cole's involvement in the Traverse City Management Briefing Seminar and the Joint U.S.-Japan Automotive Study. The collection includes Cole's correspondence during his role as the Director of OSAT and materials from his various speaking engagements. The Research series contains materials describing Cole's research on the Wankel engine and his consulting work for Bendix.

The center has been cited in 137 different Times stories since 2001, most of them quoting David Cole -- who has been variously identified by Times reporters as its "director," "executive director," "president," "chairman" and "head." (CAR's website give his title as "chairman.") Cole, an engineer and Ph.D. who holds an academic position at the University of Michigan, has close ties to the industry; his father was a manager at Chevrolet, and his long list of credentials includes work in automotive design and marketing. But these days, Cole's full-time task appears to be as a commentator on the auto industry for reporters in need of a quote -- especially at the Times. He's certainly a knowledgeable source, having worked alongside auto executives for years. But is he an objective analyst of the auto business, given his dependence on its survival for his own?

Records, 1981-1987, of the Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation (OSAT), a unit of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI); include correspondence, newsletters and other published materials, subject files, and other records relating to the automotive industry of the United States, especially to its competition with Japan.