advises government and industry participants on the program’s progress, and identifies significant barriers to success. This is the sixth review by the committee; the previous studies are documented in five National Research Council reports, which also contain background on the PNGV program and the committee’s activities (NRC, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999).
The PNGV goals, and the basis for all of the National Research Council reviews, are articulated in the PNGV Program Plan (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 has noted in previous 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, 1998; OTA, 1995; PCAST, 1997; Sissine, 1996). Although U.S. gasoline prices have risen in recent months, they are relatively low in real terms, and U.S. automobile purchasers have little incentive to consider fuel economy as a major factor in their purchase decisions. In addition, the sales of light trucks, especially sport utility vehicles, which have lower legislated fuel economy requirements than automobiles, continue to increase. The lack of market incentives in the United States for buyers to purchase vehicles with high fuel economy has made it difficult to realize 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 while meeting safety and emissions standards would circumvent the lack of economic incentives for buying automobiles with high fuel economy. If the PNGV strategy