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OCR for page 17
REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES Observations The committee considers the underlying concept of the PNGV program to be credible. This concept is to bring together the extensive R &D resources of the federal establishment (including its national laboratories and network of university-based research institutions) and the vehicle design, manufacturing, and marketing capabilities represented by USCAR and suppliers to the automotive manufacturers. 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 PNGV program establishes a government-industry partnership for applying resources to meet a set of goals that provide benefits to both parties. It relies on mutual trust and strong motivation of the partners to make the program succeed. The presentations and discussions at the Dearborn meeting reflected a high level of cooperation between government and industry. It is noteworthy 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 have developed in the PNGV are commendable. With this rapid, initial accomplishment, the PNGV has made a good start. The government funding for the PNGV will be applied primarily to developing high-risk (Goal 3) technologies. The USCAR funding will be greater for technologies with a clear, near-term market potential (for goals 1 and 2). However, near-term technologies with market potential become highly proprietary, making cooperative research difficult. Consequently, “good faith” accounting of industry financial and resource commitments to near-term goals becomes necessary, which in turn necessitates the existence of detailed program plans and schedules. Goal 3, which aims for a production prototype of a competitively priced family car by 2004 that achieves fuel efficiency of up to 80 miles per gallon, is extremely challenging. The schedule calls for the selection of viable technologies to begin in 1995. The process of selecting technologies and narrowing the technical focus will continue through 1997. From the information presented to the committee, it appears that the broad priorities established for the PNGV program are reasonable. Unfortunately, however, the time for conducting research to advance high-risk, high-payoff technologies is extremely short. Accordingly, many promising technologies may not be ready in time to meet the ambitious schedule for Goal 3. Other technologies may achieve attractive fuel economy and emissions levels but still need further research to make them viable in a competitive market. These considerations raise resource-related concerns, which are as yet unresolved.
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REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES In the course of its meeting, the committee identified several program issues that, in its view, require immediate attention and concerted action by the government and USCAR to sustain the program’s momentum and increase its chance of success. These issues are highlighted in this report along with the committee’s recommendations for their resolution. They are offered with the expectation that they will help the PNGV to succeed in an important national undertaking that has the potential to significantly serve the public interest in new and unique ways.
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