1
Introduction

On September 29, 1993, President Clinton initiated the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) program, which is a cooperative research and development (R&D) program between the federal government and the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR), whose members are DaimlerChrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors Corporation (GM).1 The purpose of the PNGV program is to improve substantially the fuel efficiency of today's automobiles and enhance the U.S. domestic automobile industry's productivity and competitiveness. The objective of the PNGV program over the next decade is to develop technologies for a new generation of vehicles that can achieve fuel economies up to three times (80 miles per equivalent gallon of gasoline) those of today's comparable midsize sedans, with comparable performance, size, utility, and cost of ownership and operation, and meeting or exceeding federal safety and emissions requirements (The White House, 1993).

The PNGV declaration of intent includes a requirement for an independent peer review "to comment on the technologies selected for research and progress made." In response to a written request by the undersecretary for technology administration, U.S. Department of Commerce on behalf of the PNGV, the National Research Council in July 1994 established the Standing Committee to Review the Research Program of the Partnership for a New Generation of

1  

USCAR, which predated the formation of PNGV, was established to support intercompany, precompetitive cooperation to reduce the cost of redundant R&D in the face of international competition. Chrysler Corporation merged with Daimler Benz in 1998 to form DaimlerChrysler. USCAR is currently comprised of a number of consortia as shown in Appendix F.



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--> 1 Introduction On September 29, 1993, President Clinton initiated the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) program, which is a cooperative research and development (R&D) program between the federal government and the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR), whose members are DaimlerChrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors Corporation (GM).1 The purpose of the PNGV program is to improve substantially the fuel efficiency of today's automobiles and enhance the U.S. domestic automobile industry's productivity and competitiveness. The objective of the PNGV program over the next decade is to develop technologies for a new generation of vehicles that can achieve fuel economies up to three times (80 miles per equivalent gallon of gasoline) those of today's comparable midsize sedans, with comparable performance, size, utility, and cost of ownership and operation, and meeting or exceeding federal safety and emissions requirements (The White House, 1993). The PNGV declaration of intent includes a requirement for an independent peer review "to comment on the technologies selected for research and progress made." In response to a written request by the undersecretary for technology administration, U.S. Department of Commerce on behalf of the PNGV, the National Research Council in July 1994 established the Standing Committee to Review the Research Program of the Partnership for a New Generation of 1   USCAR, which predated the formation of PNGV, was established to support intercompany, precompetitive cooperation to reduce the cost of redundant R&D in the face of international competition. Chrysler Corporation merged with Daimler Benz in 1998 to form DaimlerChrysler. USCAR is currently comprised of a number of consortia as shown in Appendix F.

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--> Vehicles. The committee conducts annual independent reviews of the PNGV's research program, advises government and industry participants on the program's progress, and identifies significant barriers to success. This is the fifth review by the committee; the previous studies are documented in four National Research Council reports, which provide further background on the PNGV program and the committee's activities (NRC, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998a). The PNGV goals and the considerations underlying all of the National Research Council reviews articulated in the partnership's program plan are (PNGV, 1995): Goal 1. Significantly improve national competitiveness in manufacturing for future generations of vehicles. Improve the productivity of the U.S. manufacturing base by significantly upgrading U.S. manufacturing technology, including the adoption of agile and flexible manufacturing and reduction of costs and lead times, while reducing the environmental impact and improving quality. Goal 2. Implement commercially viable innovations from ongoing research on conventional vehicles. Pursue technology advances that can lead to improvements in fuel efficiency and reductions in the emissions of standard vehicle designs, while pursuing advances to maintain safety performance. Research will focus on technologies that reduce the demand for energy from the engine and drivetrain. Throughout the research program, the industry has pledged to apply those commercially viable technologies resulting from this research that would be expected to increase significantly vehicle fuel efficiency and improve emissions. Goal 3. Develop vehicles to achieve up to three times the fuel efficiency of comparable 1994 family sedans. Increase vehicle fuel efficiency to up to three times that of the average 1994 Concorde/Taurus/Lumina automobiles with equivalent cost of ownership adjusted for economics. As the committee noted in its third and fourth reports, and as has been noted in a number of other studies, achieving significant improvements in automotive fuel economy and developing competitive advanced automotive technologies and vehicles can provide important economic benefits to the nation, improve air quality, improve the nation's balance of payments, and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere (DOE, 1997; NRC, 1992, 1997, 1998a, 1998b; OTA, 1995; PCAST, 1997; Sissine, 1996). However, crude oil prices have fallen precipitously recently, and U.S. gasoline prices are relatively low, giving automobile purchasers little incentive to consider fuel economy as a major factor in their purchase decisions. In addition, the U.S. automotive market continues to

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--> experience a substantial increase in the sales of light trucks, especially sport utility vehicles, which have lower legislated fuel economy requirements than automobiles. The lack of market incentives in the United States for car buyers to purchase vehicles with high fuel economy has made it difficult to realize the public benefits from improvements in fuel economy. The PNGV strategy of developing an automobile with a fuel economy of up to 80 mpg that maintains current performance, size, utility, and cost levels and meets safety and emissions standards, would circumvent the lack of economic incentives for buying automobiles with high fuel economy. If the PNGV strategy is successful, buyers will purchase vehicles with all of the desirable consumer attributes, as well as greatly enhanced fuel economy. The development of this vehicle, as the committee noted in its previous reports, is extremely challenging. But this ambitious goal and the PNGV program have helped stimulate the rapid development worldwide of the required technologies, which highlights the potential strategic value of programs like the PNGV and the importance of staying abreast of developments in foreign technology. Even if the Goal 3 vehicle does not achieve the triple-level fuel economy but approaches the cost and performance objectives, it may still be far more fuel-efficient than current vehicles, which would be an outstanding achievement. The PNGV's objective is to bring together the extensive R&D resources of the federal establishment, including the national laboratories and university-based research institutions, and the vehicle design, manufacturing, and marketing capabilities of both the USCAR partners and suppliers to the automotive industry. In general, government funding for the PNGV is primarily used for the development of long-term, high-risk technologies. Funding by USCAR and industry is generally used to develop technologies with near-term commercial potential, to implement government technology developments into automotive applications, and to produce concept vehicles. Substantial in-house proprietary R&D programs are also under way at USCAR partners' facilities. Technical teams responsible for R&D on the candidate subsystems, such as fuel cells, four-stroke direct-injection (4SDI) engines, and others, are central to the PNGV. A manufacturing team, an electrical and electronics power-conversion devices team, a materials and structures team, and a systems-analysis team are also part of the PNGV organization (NRC, 1996, 1997, 1998a). Technical oversight and coordination are provided by the vehicle-engineering team, which provides the technical teams with vehicle-system requirements, which are supported by the systems-analysis team. At the end of 1997, the PNGV reached a critical milestone of technology selection (often referred to as the technology "downselect" process) based on assessments of system configurations for alternative vehicles. In this process, several technology options were eliminated as leading candidates, such as gas turbines, Stirling engines, ultracapacitors for energy storage, and flywheels for energy storage. After reviewing this process during its fourth review, the

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--> committee endorsed the technology selections (e.g., four-stroke, internal-combustion engines, fuel cells, batteries, power electronics, and structural materials). Since then, the PNGV has focused available resources on fewer technologies with the intent of defining, developing, and constructing concept vehicles by 2000 and production prototypes by 2004 (PNGV, 1995). The USCAR partners are developing separate concept vehicles, drawing on the spectrum of technologies developed under the PNGV and in-house proprietary technology, but neither the PNGV nor USCAR will design or build a concept car, a decision that the committee supports. Although the technologies most likely to result in concept and production prototype vehicles that could meet the Goal 3 requirements were selected during the downselect process, as other longer-range technologies continue to evolve, they may be incorporated into subsequent concept vehicles, as appropriate, and a series of concept vehicles will probably be developed after 2000. Since the beginning of the program, the PNGV has addressed many technology areas, including advanced lightweight materials and structures; efficient energy-conversion systems (including advanced internal combustion engines, gas turbines, Stirling engines, and fuel cells); hybrid electric propulsion systems; energy-storage devices (including high-power batteries, flywheels, and ultracapacitors); efficient electrical and electronic systems; and systems to recover and utilize exhaust energy and braking energy. This fifth PNGV review was conducted by a 14-member committee with a wide variety of expertise (see Appendix A for biographical information). The committee was asked to address the following tasks in this review (see Appendix C for the complete Statement of Task): (1)   In light of recommendations from the fourth review, for each of the major technology selection focus areas (i.e., four-stroke direct injection engines, fuel cells, energy storage, electronic and electrical systems, and materials), examine the overall adequacy and balance of the PNGV research and development efforts to meet the program goals and requirements (i.e., technical objectives, schedules, and rate of progress necessary to meet the requirements). (2)   Examine the ongoing systems analysis effort and the process by which it is guiding the PNGV to make decisions on R&D directions. (3)   Examine the efforts and progress towards PNGV's long-range component and system-level cost and performance goals. (4)   Examine ongoing PNGV-related efforts in the areas of vehicle emissions research and advanced materials research, and the process by which results are targeting both long-range and shorter-range PNGV goals.

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--> (5)   Review the government efforts to provide interfaces among different government agency R&D activities in support of PNGV. The conclusions and recommendations in this fifth report are based on the committee's meetings, presentations, and other data-gathering activities (see Appendix D).2 Some of the material reviewed by the committee was presented by USCAR as proprietary information under an agreement signed by the National Academy of Sciences, USCAR, and the U.S. Department of Commerce (on behalf of the federal government). Appendix E lists all of the recommendations contained in this report. As with any program, opinions of the goals often differ. Some think the time frame should be longer to allow for the maturation of some of the longer-range technologies; some think that, rather than a fuel economy target, the goals should be to reduce the combined emissions of greenhouse gases. As the committee noted in previous reports (NRC, 1996, 1997, 1998a), all of these reviews were undertaken with the understanding that the vision, goals, and target dates for the PNGV were articulated by the president and that the appropriate R&D programs had been launched. Assuming that the PNGV partners will seriously pursue the objectives of the program, the committee understands its role as providing independent advice to help the PNGV achieve its goals. Therefore, the committee has tried to identify actions that could enhance the program's chances for success and refrained from making judgments on the value of the program to the nation. The goals were accepted as given, including goals 1 and 2, which, unlike Goal 3, are open-ended and do not have quantitative targets and milestones. The objectives of goals 1 and 2, in many instances, support progress toward Goal 3, especially in support of the development of manufacturing capabilities for the advanced automotive technologies being considered for the Goal 3 vehicle. The committee's objective continues to be to review the R&D program as presently configured and to assess the PNGV's progress toward, and potential for, achieving its goals. However, because regulatory and market changes continue to occur, the PNGV should reassess its objectives, as necessary. 2   The committee formed the following subgroups: Systems Analysis and Electrical and Electronic Systems; Batteries; Fuels; Fuel Cells; Internal-Combustion Engines and Emissions Control; Materials; and Cost Analysis. For a list of members of the subgroups see pages iii and iv.