consumption and exhaust emissions. Light-duty-vehicle manufacturers have already made significant improvements in reducing fuel consumption and even more progress in reducing vehicle emissions. Emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) from heavy-duty vehicles will be significantly reduced by regulations that go into effect between 2007 and 2010. However, reductions in fuel consumption of the large commercial truck fleet have not been as impressive, partly because of the growth in the number of miles driven by large trucks during the past decade. Yet if the United States is to reduce its reliance on foreign sources of oil, it will be necessary to reduce the fuel consumption of commercial vehicles. The 21CTP can play an important role in this regard.

Organizational Background of the 21st Century Truck Partnership

In late 2006, the National Research Council (NRC) formed the Committee to Review the 21st Century Truck Partnership, which conducted an independent review of the 21CTP. This report critically examines and comments on the overall adequacy and balance of the 21st Century Truck Partnership to accomplish its goals and on progress in the program, and it presents recommendations, as appropriate, which the committee believes can improve the likelihood of the Partnership meeting its goals.


The 21st Century Truck Partnership was announced by Vice President Gore April 21, 2000, as a heavy-duty counterpart of the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV).1 The PNGV was a cooperative program, launched in 1994, that sought to develop and demonstrate the technology to triple the fuel economy of U.S. passenger vehicles (see, for example, NRC, 2001), and continues today as the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership (involving the DOE, a number of vehicle and fuel companies, and a nonprofit corporation representing the Detroit-based auto manufacturers), discussed later in this chapter.

The launch of the 21CTP was welcomed by an earlier NRC committee (NRC, 2000, p. 11):

If this new initiative moves forward as planned, it will have a major impact on OHVT [the DOE Office of Heavy Vehicles Technology]. The program’s target year is 2010. The government agencies that will be involved include DOE, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Defense, and EPA; a number of private companies are also expected to join the partnership. The goal of this government-industry research program will be to develop production prototype vehicles with the following characteristics:

  • Improved fuel efficiency by (1) doubling the Class 8 long-haul truck fuel efficiency; (2) tripling the Class 2b and Class 6 truck (delivery van) fuel efficiency; and (3) tripling the Class 8 transit bus fuel efficiency

  • Lower emissions than expected standards for 2010

  • Meeting or exceeding the motor carrier safety goal of reducing truck fatalities by half

  • Affordability and equal or better performance than today’s vehicles.

Those goals have been updated twice since the launch of the program. The details of today’s goals are set out in technical white papers on engine systems, heavy-duty hybrids, parasitic losses, idle reduction, and safety (DOE, 2006a, pp. 2-3). The committee comments on the research and development (R&D) in each of those areas in each of following chapters.

Lines of Authority

The 21CTP was apparently expected to have a single stream of funds to support its research, so that it could set research projects according to their likely return.2 In practice, it has not been so simple. The Partnership was at first under the command of the DOD (the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research and Development Command). In November 2002, that authority passed to the Department of Energy (DOE, 2006b, p. 4-7), specifically to the FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies (FCVT) Program under the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

The other agencies have simply moved their own existing programs under the 21CTP umbrella, so DOE has little influence over the research programs of its DOT, DOD, or EPA partners. DOE staff organize meetings and conference calls, maintain the information-flow infrastructure (such as Web sites and e-mail lists), and have led the discussions for and preparation of the updated 21CTP roadmap and white papers laying out Partnership goals. The management of individual projects under the 21CTP umbrella rests with the individual federal agencies that have funded the work. These agencies use the 21CTP information-sharing infrastructure to coordinate efforts and ensure that valuable research results are communicated and that overlap of activities is reduced.

According to the official roadmap and technical white papers of the 21st Century Truck Partnership (DOE, 2006a, p. 6):


James Eberhardt, Director, Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies (OHVT), DOE, “The 21st Century Truck, a Government-Industry Research Partnership,” Presentation to the Committee on Review of DOE’s Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies, Washington, D.C., June 15, 2000; Paul Skalny, U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Command, “The 21st Century Truck Initiative: Developing Technologies for 21st Century Trucks,” Presentation to the Committee on Review of DOE’s Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies, Washington, D.C., April 26, 2000.


Personal statement to the committee by Kenneth Howden, Director, 21st Century Truck Partnership, April 18, 2007.

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