• Batteries and other forms of electrochemical energy storage,
  • Electric propulsion systems,
  • Hydrogen production and delivery, and
  • Materials leading to vehicle weight reductions.

In each of these technology areas, specific research targets have been established, although some targets and program emphases are undergoing revision. Program oversight is provided by an Executive Steering Group (ESG), which is not a federal advisory committee. It consists of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and a vice-presidential-level executive from each of the Partnership companies. The DOE EERE efforts are divided between the Vehicle Technologies Program (VTP) and the Fuel Cell Technologies Program (FCTP). The Partnership collaborates with other DOE offices outside of EERE, as appropriate, and with the U.S. Department of Transportation on safety-related activities.

The U.S. DRIVE partners include four automotive companies, five energy companies, two electric power companies, and the Electric Power Research Institute, with the DOE providing the federal leadership. During the past year, several associate-member companies have also been added. The Partnership does not itself conduct or fund R&D, but each partner makes its own decisions regarding the funding and management of its projects.

Even though the technologies involved are not all under the U.S. DRIVE umbrella, the potential primary pathways to the long-term goals of significantly reduced petroleum consumption as well as reduced criteria emissions and reduced greenhouse gases (GHGs) for LDVs are as follows:

  • Improved ICE vehicles coupled with greater use of biofuels and natural gas, with low life-cycle environmental impacts;
  • A shifting of significant portions of transportation energy from petroleum to the electric grid through the expanded use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs); and
  • The possible transition to hydrogen as a transportation fuel utilized in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCVs).

The committee notes that none of these pathways is without issues and none is devoid of promise.

The development of biomass feedstocks and of the technologies for conversion to transportation fuels is outside the responsibility of U.S. DRIVE. Similarly, the impact on GHG emissions of a broad deployment of PHEVs and BEVs will depend on the deployment of a variety of low-criteria-pollutant and low-GHG-emissions electricity generation technologies, another area that is outside the purview of U.S. DRIVE. However, the transition to hydrogen fuel with low life-cycle GHGs is within the scope of U.S. DRIVE.

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