The committee was asked to comment on the role of government beyond the 1997 technology selection process and on how the PNGV might interact with other government research programs. Separate concept demonstration vehicles (by 2000) and production prototypes (by 2004) will be built by the USCAR partners with no significant participation by government. However, the government can and should support the development of longer-term technologies that are likely to be incorporated in subsequent concept vehicles. Beyond the demonstration of the concept vehicles and the PNGV time frame, the government should take the lead in developing high-risk, long-term technologies for vehicles with low fuel consumption and emissions. The development of these advanced vehicles will be especially important in light of concerns about climate change, concerns about maintaining U.S. competitiveness, and concerns about the country's balance of payments.
The PNGV is a partnership of seven government agencies and the three USCAR partners, but it does not have the line management structure or budgetary authority to control projects by different agencies that may have different missions. One of PNGV's primary functions is to establish communications and the exchange of information on the technology and projects related to automobiles and to coordinate recommendations and jointly plan future projects. The PNGV should see that the public gets the maximum benefit from government-funded development by the various agencies and should encourage the support of high payoff technologies in automotive applications, such as low emissions, high efficiency, and low cost of ownership.
Recommendation. The government should significantly expand its support for the development of long-term PNGV technologies that have the potential to improve fuel economy, lower emissions, and be commercially viable.
Recommendation. The PNGV should expand its liaison role for the exchange of technological information among federal research programs that are relevant to automotive technologies and should accelerate the sharing of results among the participants in the PNGV on long-term, high-payoff technologies applicable to automobiles.