Lasers will help make cars better, lighter and easier to manufacture, automotive industry leaders predicted during the plenary session of the Laser Institute of America's International Conference on the Applications of Lasers and Electro-Optics. Officials from Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. noted that lasers are already at home in welding, drilling, marking and other applications in auto manufacturing plants, enabling improvements in cars. "Much remains to be done in terms of intelligent design for manufacturing with lasers," said Lawrence D. Burns, vice president of research and development and planning at General Motors. "The challenge is to discover ways in which we can maximize the value of this extraordinary tool." Al Ver, vice president of advanced manufacturing engineering at Ford, said the growth of aluminum bodies should boost laser welding applications in automobile production.