The NRC will appoint an ad hoc study committee to conduct a comprehensive analysis of energy use within the light-duty vehicle transportation sector, and use the analyses to conduct an integrated study of the technology and fuel options (including electricity) that could reduce petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. As was accomplished with the NRC Transitions to Alternative Transportation Technologies: A Focus on Hydrogen study, the study will address the following issues over the time frame out to 2050:
• Assess the current status of light-duty vehicle technologies and their potential for future improvements in terms of fuel economy and costs including:
—Advanced conventional ICE and hybrid-electric vehicles, including improved combustion and rolling resistance, and weight reduction (safety implications of lighter weight vehicles will be considered);
—All-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles;
—Hydrogen fueled ICE and fuel cell vehicles;
—Biofueled vehicles; and
—Natural gas vehicles.
• Assess the status and prospects for current and future fuels and electric power that would be needed to power the vehicles. A variety of alternative fuels will be considered such as hydrogen, fuels derived from fossil feedstocks, and different biofuels derived from biomass feedstocks.
• Develop scenarios or estimates of the rate at which each of the vehicle technologies considered might be able to penetrate the market and what would be the associated costs, greenhouse gas emissions and petroleum consumption impacts out to 2050. This would also include the infrastructure needs either for production of the vehicles or supplying the energy requirements for the vehicles. Costs would be put on a consistent basis to serve as a better index of comparing options. Scenarios will consider technology as well as policy options and consider the likelihood of achieving 50 percent reduction in petroleum consumption by 2030 as well as 80 percent reduction in petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In addition to technology, potential reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) will also be considered.
• Identify the barriers that might exist in transitioning to these vehicle and fuel technologies.
• Consider and compare, as appropriate, the results to those obtained in recent National Academies studies as well as in other outside analyses and make comparisons based on similar assumptions and cost and benefit calculations.
• Recommend improvements in, and priorities for, the federal R&D program activities to accelerate the development of the most promising technologies.
• Suggest policies and strategies for achieving up to 80 percent reduction in petroleum consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 through commercial deployment of the light-duty vehicle technologies analyzed in the study.
• Write a report documenting the analyses, conclusions, and recommendations.
To the extent possible the committee will consider issues relating to vehicle duty cycles, regional distinctions, and technology development timelines and will build on the recent work of the National Academies reports as well as other recent studies that have been conducted.