to U.S. DRIVE, the VSATT adopted “a renewed focus as a service organization to the other technical teams.”1 The application of systems analysis to the overall guidance and management of the Partnership and the determination of technical directions in pursuit of the Partnership’s overarching goals relating to U.S. petroleum consumption and GHG emissions continue to be much less transparent. In the Phase 2 report (NRC, 2008, p. 30), it was noted that “there is no lack of technical review of the individual program elements, but what is missing is analysis of the quantitative impact on the overall goals of reducing petroleum use and pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions.” In the Phase 3 report, it was observed that, despite some encouraging progress, “this remains an area in which the committee strongly encourages additional emphasis” (NRC, 2010, p. 35).
Once again, whereas the committee finds the operation of the technical teams and the integration of the systems analysis functions within those teams to be exemplary, the application of systems analysis to strategic decision making is lagging, especially concerning alternative pathways to achieving objectives such as reduced U.S. consumption of petroleum and reduced production of GHGs (see Chapter 1 for a brief discussion). It is not apparent that critical issues being investigated by the technical teams are guided and prioritized by an overall program imbued with an understanding of the scale and limits of these technical improvements and how they affect larger program goals. Additionally, the results and implications of systems analyses conducted by the technical teams have crosscutting implications for research direction and goals throughout the program. The potential exists for implicit conflict among the respective goals of the various technical teams: for example, simply seeking the highest-efficiency electric drive components may incur costs that would be better spent on alternative battery chemistry, and these trade-offs can only be made across the Partnership, driven by systems analysis. (It appears that industry is making these kinds of trade-offs in its own in-house decisions by, for example, sometimes adopting induction motors instead of more efficient but more costly permanent-magnet [PM] motors.)
Another example is the acceptance by U.S. DRIVE of 70 MPa (10,000 psi) as the de facto hydrogen storage tank pressure, on the premise that “higher density is better.” This acceptance occurred without any apparent overall systems analysis considering not only onboard storage objectives, but also such factors as required compression energy, tank weight and cost trade-offs, or infrastructure ramifications. Consideration of all relevant factors could conceivably lead to the conclusion that, say, 8,000 psi would represent a better overall compromise. It is imperative that the Partnership’s ESG, Joint Operations Group, or other program decision-making group continually strive to understand such implications and adapt research plans as technology or other critical factors change: in effect, provide overall portfolio management.
1 L. Slezak, Department of Energy, “Vehicle Systems and Analysis Technical Team,” presentation to the committee, January 26, 2012, Washington, D.C.