1
Purpose, Scope, and Process of This Study

In September 1990, the California Air Resources Board (CARB),1 an agency of the California Environmental Protection Agency, adopted regulations for low-emission vehicles and clean fuels as part of its continuing efforts to reduce pollution from motor vehicles. These regulations established stringent standards for tailpipe emissions for new classes of vehicles and defined a yearly average fleet emission rate, beginning in 1994. The most stringent emissions standards applied to "zero-emission vehicles" (ZEVs), which produce no smog-forming tailpipe or evaporative emissions. According to the 1990 CARB mandate, ZEVs were scheduled to comprise 2 percent of the new vehicles sold in California by every large automobile manufacturer,2 starting in 1998. The percentage of ZEVs was scheduled to increase to 5 percent in 2001 and to 10 percent in 2003. In 1996, the intermediate requirements for 1998 and 2001 were dropped, and the current requirement is that 10 percent of new vehicles must be ZEVs by 2003. Massachusetts has a similar mandate, and New York is trying to establish a 2 percent ZEV requirement.

Electric Vehicles

The only vehicle currently capable of meeting the California ZEV requirements is the battery-powered electric vehicle (EV). From the perspective of the

1  

 CARB was founded in 1967 "to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through the effective and efficient reduction of air pollutants, while recognizing and considering the effects on the economy of the state" (CARB, 1967). The 11 members of CARB are appointed by the governor of California.

2  

 The mandate applied to seven car companies with sales of more than 35,000 vehicles per year in California: General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Mazda.



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--> 1 Purpose, Scope, and Process of This Study In September 1990, the California Air Resources Board (CARB),1 an agency of the California Environmental Protection Agency, adopted regulations for low-emission vehicles and clean fuels as part of its continuing efforts to reduce pollution from motor vehicles. These regulations established stringent standards for tailpipe emissions for new classes of vehicles and defined a yearly average fleet emission rate, beginning in 1994. The most stringent emissions standards applied to "zero-emission vehicles" (ZEVs), which produce no smog-forming tailpipe or evaporative emissions. According to the 1990 CARB mandate, ZEVs were scheduled to comprise 2 percent of the new vehicles sold in California by every large automobile manufacturer,2 starting in 1998. The percentage of ZEVs was scheduled to increase to 5 percent in 2001 and to 10 percent in 2003. In 1996, the intermediate requirements for 1998 and 2001 were dropped, and the current requirement is that 10 percent of new vehicles must be ZEVs by 2003. Massachusetts has a similar mandate, and New York is trying to establish a 2 percent ZEV requirement. Electric Vehicles The only vehicle currently capable of meeting the California ZEV requirements is the battery-powered electric vehicle (EV). From the perspective of the 1    CARB was founded in 1967 "to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through the effective and efficient reduction of air pollutants, while recognizing and considering the effects on the economy of the state" (CARB, 1967). The 11 members of CARB are appointed by the governor of California. 2    The mandate applied to seven car companies with sales of more than 35,000 vehicles per year in California: General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Mazda.

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--> complete fuel cycle, however, battery-powered EVs do not have zero emissions. For example, the power plant produces emissions associated with the production of electricity for recharging the vehicle. However, CARB argues that it is easier to control emissions from a small number of stationary sources (power plants) than from millions of mobile sources (automobiles) (CARB, 1996).3 Chrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and the General Motors Corporation (GM) anticipate that customer requirements for a sustainable EV market will include a vehicle range of significantly more than 100 miles in actual customer use; life-cycle costs comparable to those of gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles; 4 performance equivalent to the performance of an ICE vehicle, including hill climbing ability; minimal routine maintenance; and the ability to operate in all climates (R. Davis, 1997). The batteries that can be accommodated in an EV equivalent in size to a typical family sedan cannot provide as much energy as the gasoline in the fuel tank of a conventional vehicle. Consequently, the range of an EV on a single battery charge is far less than the 300-mile range per tank of fuel for a typical gasoline-fueled vehicle with an ICE. An EV with a conventional chassis and body that uses off-the-shelf drivetrain components and a conventional lead-acid battery has a practical range of about 50 miles (CARB, 1994). CARB reports that the range can be increased to about 100 miles by incorporating recent advances in motor and electronic technology. The incorporation of energy efficient vehicle technologies, such as lightweight materials, regenerative braking systems, and improved motors and controllers, can further increase the range. However, the development of improved batteries remains the biggest technological challenge for EVs. The cost of existing batteries is also a barrier to the widespread consumer acceptance of EVs because the initial purchase price of an EV is almost certain to be higher than the price of a gasoline-fueled vehicle. Whether or not advances in technology and mass production can reduce the life cycle costs of an EV to those of a gasoline-fueled vehicle is an open question.5 U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium The CARB mandate for the introduction of ZEVs created a resurgence of interest in EVs and related technologies. In January 1991, the three major U.S. automakers—Chrysler, Ford, and GM—entered into an agreement to pool their 3    CARB is considering an amendment to its requirement for ZEVs that would allow any vehicle to qualify for ZEV credit if its emissions are no higher than the power plant emissions associated with an EV and its emissions do not increase over time (in contrast to those of a conventional vehicle). Hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell-powered vehicles may be able to meet these criteria. 4    In this report, an ICE vehicle is assumed to be a conventional gasoline-fueled vehicle. 5    For further information on EV battery technology, see the study sponsored by CARB of EV battery technology from an international perspective (Kalhammer et al., 1995).

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--> technical knowledge and funding in an effort to accelerate progress in the development of batteries for EVs. Their partnership, which is slated to run until 2003, is called the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC). The purpose of USABC is to ''work with advanced battery developers and companies that will conduct research and development (R&D) on advanced batteries to provide increased range and improved performance for electric vehicles in the latter part of the 1990s'' (R. Davis, 1997). In addition to the three automakers, participants in USABC include the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), through a cooperative agreement with the partnership, and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), through a participation agreement. The USABC has awarded a number of contracts to battery companies for work on battery technologies for EVs and has sponsored related projects at several DOE national laboratories, through cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs). Phase I, from 1991 to 1996, focused on six major battery systems: nickel metal hydride (Ni/MH), sodium-sulfur, lithium-ion, lithium-polymer, lithium-ion polymer, and lithium-iron disulfide systems. Total spending for Phase I was $189 million, which was borne equally by government (DOE) and industry (the three domestic automakers, EPRI, electric utilities, and battery companies). Phase II, from 1996 to 2000, will focus on Ni/MH, lithium-ion, and lithium-polymer systems. Total Phase II funding is expected to be $106 million, 45 percent of which will be provided by DOE and 55 percent of which will be provided by industry. Origin and Scope At the request of the director of DOE's Office of Advanced Automotive Technologies (OAAT),6 the National Research Council (NRC) convened a committee under the auspices of the Board on Energy and Environmental Systems to conduct a retrospective examination of the processes used by the USABC to select and evaluate R&D projects on EV battery technology in Phase I of the program. The committee was also asked to comment on the USABC's plans for the selection of Phase II projects. Some of the topics the committee was requested to address are listed below: the process by which technical goals and objectives were established for EV battery development the process used by the USABC to solicit proposals, choose contractors, and make awards, both for new projects and for continuing efforts the manner in which contractor performance was measured and evaluated by the USABC 6    DOE funding for USABC activities is provided through OAAT.

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--> how actual contractor results measured up against the technical goals and objectives the USABC's plans for Phase II7 Thus, the scope of the committee's task was oriented towards processes used in the USABC program. The goals of the program were established to fulfill the CARB mandate and the automotive companies' analyses of the market for EVs. The committee's review is based on the established goals, even though, in the committee's opinion, 1998 was not a realistic date. Committee members included experts in battery technology and electric power systems, R&D management, materials science, electrochemistry, and automotive applications of advanced technologies. Biographical sketches are provided in Appendix A. Process and Organization The committee met twice between October and December 1997. Most of the first meeting was devoted to presentations by USABC personnel, who described the processes used to establish technical goals and objectives for battery development; to solicit proposals, choose contractors, and make awards; and to manage projects and evaluate contractor performance (see Appendix B). At the second meeting, additional presentations were made on lithium battery technologies and government-industry R&D consortia. Most of the second meeting was devoted to committee deliberations. In addition to the presentations at meetings, the committee received written information from the USABC on the project selection process and on technical progress (and problems) in Phases I and II. One committee member visited the 3M facility in Minneapolis where lithium-polymer battery facilities have been developed by 3M and Hydro-Québec under the USABC program. Some of the material, called "USABC protected battery information," provided to the committee under an agreement signed by the National Academy of Sciences, the USABC, and DOE, included proprietary information of the USABC or its member companies. General information on advanced battery development was obtained by individual committee members in the course of discussions with members of the broad technical community. These discussions also provided insights into the overall impact of the USABC program on battery R&D in the United States. Chapter 2 of this report provides background information on the structure and funding of the USABC and summarizes the roles of the industry participants 7    When the proposal for this study was submitted to DOE, Phase II was in the planning stage. However, by the time the study got under way, the major Phase II contracts had been awarded. The committee was, therefore, able to comment on both the plans for Phase II and progress through the end of calendar year 1997.

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--> and the government in the consortium's activities. Chapter 3 provides a critique of the technical goals and objectives established by the USABC for battery development, as well as the committee's assessment of the processes used to solicit and select R&D projects. Chapter 4 contains the committee's evaluation of technical strategies and progress in Phases I and II. Chapter 5 contains the committee's evaluation of the USABC as a management model—including comparisons with other government-industry R&D partnerships—and an assessment of the USABC's oversight of R&D projects. Chapter 6 provides the committee's conclusions and recommendations, based on the findings in Chapters 3 through 5. The recommendations address specific features of the USABC program, especially activities scheduled between now and the termination of the program in 2003, as well as generic issues relevant to government-industry R&D partnerships. In developing its conclusions and recommendations, the committee was mindful of topics identified by the OAAT director as being of particular interest to DOE (Patil, 1997). These topics include the selection of lithium-polymer battery technology as the long-term option for EVs; the balance between research and development in the USABC program; opportunities for the national laboratories, small businesses, and universities to participate in the USABC program; the management of government-industry R&D partnerships; and the possibility of a follow-on program to the USABC after 2000.