Executive Summary

This is the first report of the National Research Council’s Standing Committee to Review the Research Program of the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV). The committee was established in July 1994 to conduct an independent review of the PNGV program at the request of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The PNGV program is a cooperative research and development program between the federal government and the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR), which is made up of Chrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors Corporation. The decade-long program was initiated on September 29, 1993, by President Clinton with the goals of: (1) significantly improving national competitiveness in manufacturing; (2) implementing commercially viable innovation from ongoing research on conventional vehicles; and (3) developing a vehicle to achieve up to three times the fuel efficiency of today’s comparable vehicles (specifically the Concorde, Taurus, and Lumina) while maintaining or improving current levels of performance, size, utility, and total cost of ownership and while meeting or exceeding federal safety and emissions requirements.

The committee was asked to conduct the first review in August 1994 and to issue this brief report by October 1994. In view of this three-month schedule and the short duration for which the partnership had been in existence, the committee interpreted its charge for the initial review as one that required a broad overview in coverage and perspective. The committee approached its tasks, taking as given the vision, goals, and schedules for the PNGV program that had been enunciated by the president and agreed to by USCAR. The committee also operated under the premise that the program would be seriously pursued by the government and industry partners. This first report is based on the PNGV’s presentations that were made to the committee from August 22–24, 1994, and the committee’s deliberations on August 25, 1994, in Dearborn, Michigan. Some of the material was presented to the committee as USCAR proprietary information under an agreement signed by the National Academy of Sciences; USCAR; and the U.S. government, represented by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The committee, however, did not have access to any information that was deemed proprietary by any one of the individual companies that make up USCAR.

The PNGV program establishes a government–industry partnership that is unprecedented within the U.S. automotive industry. It aims to apply joint resources to meet a set of three specific goals that provide benefits to the partners and to the nation. It relies on mutual trust and strong motivation of the partners to make the program succeed. The government funding for the PNGV will be applied primarily to developing technologies that involve high risk (Goal 3). The USCAR funding will be greater for technologies with a clear, near-term market potential (Goal 1 and Goal 2).



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REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES Executive Summary This is the first report of the National Research Council’s Standing Committee to Review the Research Program of the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV). The committee was established in July 1994 to conduct an independent review of the PNGV program at the request of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The PNGV program is a cooperative research and development program between the federal government and the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR), which is made up of Chrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors Corporation. The decade-long program was initiated on September 29, 1993, by President Clinton with the goals of: (1) significantly improving national competitiveness in manufacturing; (2) implementing commercially viable innovation from ongoing research on conventional vehicles; and (3) developing a vehicle to achieve up to three times the fuel efficiency of today’s comparable vehicles (specifically the Concorde, Taurus, and Lumina) while maintaining or improving current levels of performance, size, utility, and total cost of ownership and while meeting or exceeding federal safety and emissions requirements. The committee was asked to conduct the first review in August 1994 and to issue this brief report by October 1994. In view of this three-month schedule and the short duration for which the partnership had been in existence, the committee interpreted its charge for the initial review as one that required a broad overview in coverage and perspective. The committee approached its tasks, taking as given the vision, goals, and schedules for the PNGV program that had been enunciated by the president and agreed to by USCAR. The committee also operated under the premise that the program would be seriously pursued by the government and industry partners. This first report is based on the PNGV’s presentations that were made to the committee from August 22–24, 1994, and the committee’s deliberations on August 25, 1994, in Dearborn, Michigan. Some of the material was presented to the committee as USCAR proprietary information under an agreement signed by the National Academy of Sciences; USCAR; and the U.S. government, represented by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The committee, however, did not have access to any information that was deemed proprietary by any one of the individual companies that make up USCAR. The PNGV program establishes a government–industry partnership that is unprecedented within the U.S. automotive industry. It aims to apply joint resources to meet a set of three specific goals that provide benefits to the partners and to the nation. It relies on mutual trust and strong motivation of the partners to make the program succeed. The government funding for the PNGV will be applied primarily to developing technologies that involve high risk (Goal 3). The USCAR funding will be greater for technologies with a clear, near-term market potential (Goal 1 and Goal 2).

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REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES The committee considers the underlying concept of the PNGV program to be credible. The PNGV concept is to bring together the extensive research and development resources of the federal establishment (including its national laboratories and network of university-based research institutions) and the vehicle design, manufacturing, and marketing capabilities of the USCAR partners and of suppliers to the automotive industry. The committee finds the PNGV to be a serious undertaking that has made good progress in establishing itself in a relatively short period of time. The presentations and discussions at the Dearborn meeting reflected a high level of cooperation between government and industry. The committee noted that personnel from the diverse cultures of government and industry were working effectively together while fully embracing the goals of the PNGV. In the committee’s judgment, the enthusiasm and working relationships that seem to have developed in the PNGV are commendable. With this rapid, initial accomplishment, the PNGV has made a good start. From the information presented to the committee, it appears that the broad priorities established for the PNGV program are reasonable. There is no indication at this point in time that the goals and requirements of the program cannot be met or closely approached, provided that well-managed and adequate resources are devoted to the program by the partnership in a timely manner. The major recommendations of the committee are as follows. NATIONAL COMMITMENT If the PNGV program is to be successful as presently envisioned, it must be sufficiently supported and pursued with urgency as a national goal. Currently, the PNGV program is almost exclusively a Clinton administration –USCAR initiative. However, it is the committee’s view that congressional and public support for the program is crucial. The committee recommends that the PNGV’s public affairs groups be provided with adequate resources to inform the public about accomplishments and to help create and maintain a national commitment to the program. PROGRAM MANAGEMENT The PNGV does not, as yet, have program management structures that are adequately defined and staffed in either government or industry organizations. This situation may contribute to the apparent absence of specific program plans that are essential to the success of the program. It was disconcerting to the committee that the PNGV is essentially a year into the partnership and was unable to provide detailed and defined program plans, schedules, and milestones to the committee. In the absence of quantified goals and detailed schedules, and because of the confidentiality of the near-term programs conducted by the industry, the committee was unable to assess the suitability of the timing or adequacy of the industry funding and resources to successfully accomplish Goal 1 and Goal 2.

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REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES The management challenges in the PNGV program are enormous given the scope and complexity of the effort and the diversity of the participants. In the committee’s view, the current organizational structure, while suitable for a governing body, is inadequate to perform the detailed program management function required for a complex program such as the PNGV. The government, in particular, needs to have a strong and effective central program manager to coordinate the efforts of the many federal departments, agencies, and national laboratories involved in the PNGV program. GOVERNMENT FUNDING AND SUPPORT Prior to fiscal year 1996, government support for the program is provided within the context of existing budget levels (“level funding ”). This type of transition support makes it very difficult to effect required resource reallocation within the government for the PNGV program. The committee believes it is essential that, starting with fiscal year 1996, the government funding for major and critical elements of the PNGV program be a line-item budget for which oversight responsibility is vested in the government’s PNGV program manager. The Clinton administration has stated that it will not seek new funds for the PNGV. Thus, a redistribution and reallocation of funds to the PNGV from existing projects and jurisdictions is imperative if the program is to be effectively sustained. The committee recommends the establishment of clearly defined mechanisms in fiscal year 1996 for allocating and managing program resources, for selecting and integrating technologies, and for assessing total costs and benefits. INTEGRATED PLATFORM DEVELOPMENT TEAM The present structure of industry’s technical team in the PNGV organization appears to have been effective during the formative phase of the partnership over the past year. It should continue to be effective in managing Goal 1 and Goal 2 if it continues to receive the support needed from the three parent industrial organizations (Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors) in technology assessment and transfer. However, the structure is too diffuse and its capability too limited for it to be effective in managing Goal 3. USCAR needs to be able to speak with a single, well-informed PNGV program voice if it is to marshal effectively the diverse technology development and support groups from government, suppliers, and universities. The committee recommends the appointment of a technical director of an integrated platform development team at USCAR. The committee strongly recommends an early review and reevaluation by USCAR of this proposed need. The collection, analysis, and utilization of a vast and diverse quantity of cost and technology information can only be effectively optimized through a total systems approach to the objectives of the PNGV program. The ultimate manifestation of this total systems approach will be the successful and timely definition of the concept vehicle and of the production prototype vehicle in 1997 and 2000, respectively, leading to the construction of concept and production prototype vehicles in 2000 and 2004,

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REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES respectively. Though both government and industry partners fully embrace the need for a total systems approach, the results cannot be fully optimized and understood in the absence of an integrated platform development team located at USCAR. This team would be headed by a USCAR technical director, who would be fully responsible for the successful design and development of a baseline integrated vehicle as a total system. TECHNOLOGY STRATEGY The committee feels that it is critical for the program to adopt an appropriate strategy to determine which technologies will be supported, when, and with what level of resources. Adequate resources should be allocated to the most promising of the technologies. Some material and powertrain technologies have very attractive potential applications for automobiles but not in the time frame of the PNGV program. The committee recommends that an analysis be made now to divide all technologies related to Goal 3 into two categories: current PNGV and post-PNGV technologies. Current PNGV technologies would include all technologies that have a high probability of demonstrating PNGV system applicability and performance by 1997. It is the committee’s view that no significant technology was omitted that had the potential to be developed within the time frame of the PNGV program. Post-PNGV technologies would have a high probability of meeting PNGV goals but not within the current time frame. This categorization could accelerate the post-PNGV technology developments, since those programs would not have to respond to specific vehicle considerations at this time. Likewise, the current PNGV technologies would also be accelerated, because earlier and quicker decisions could be made on a shorter list of candidates. The committee also recommends that technologies that do not meet PNGV program objectives by 1997 but that have high long-term potential be funded and continued in development for post-PNGV applications. Manufacturing process improvements will be very important in determining the success or failure of the PNGV program in meeting its goals. At this time, it is not possible to identify all of the manufacturing improvements that may be needed, partly because of the large variety of component technologies under consideration. If there is insufficient lead time to develop capable manufacturing processes, the program could miss the Goal 3 intent. SUPPLIER AND UNIVERSITY INVOLVEMENT Substantial innovative resources that have potential to be very helpful to the overall success of the PNGV program exist within the supplier and university communities. The committee recommends that the PNGV workshop structure be quickly expanded to more effectively involve these constituents and to provide them with a link to the PNGV program.

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REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES FOREIGN TECHNOLOGY Substantial leading-edge technologies are being investigated and developed worldwide by non-U.S. interests that are not involved in the PNGV program. It would be appropriate for the PNGV program to more fully evaluate applicable non-U.S. technology developments and to integrate selected developments into the program. INFRASTRUCTURE AND CAPITAL NEEDS There is a very high probability that the PNGV concept vehicle will use technologies that will result in technological discontinuities with many of today’s automotive product and manufacturing technologies. The long-term impacts of potential discontinuities in the road–vehicle –fuel infrastructure, vehicle service, and vehicle manufacturing sectors may be enormous. In the committee’s view, these considerations, coupled with the associated capital investment issues, must be addressed as integral parts of the PNGV program systems analysis. TIMELY CORRECTION OF PROGRAM DEFICIENCIES In the interest of maintaining the viability of the PNGV program, the committee strongly recommends that the government and industry partners address program deficiencies at the earliest possible time. PEER REVIEWS OF THE PNGV If the PNGV program is to be vigorously implemented and supported as a national goal, more-detailed reviews of the program’s technological decisions, research results, and organizational structures should be actively pursued. The committee proposes conducting such expanded reviews in early 1995. As part of that process, the committee will examine the actions taken by the PNGV in addressing the recommendations of this report.