On September 29, 1993, President Clinton initiated the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) program, 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 is to develop technologies for a new generation of vehicles with fuel economies up to three times (80 miles per equivalent gallon of gasoline [mpg]) those of a 1994 comparable midsize sedan, comparable performance, size, utility, and cost of ownership and operation (adjusted for economic changes), and able to meet or exceed 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 PNGV, in July 1994 the National Research Council established the Standing Committee to Review the Research Program of the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles. The committee conducts annual independent reviews of PNGV’s research program,
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 D.
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
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 has noted in previous reports, is extremely challenging. But this ambitious goal and the PNGV program have stimulated the rapid development worldwide of the required technologies, which highlights the potential strategic value of programs like PNGV and the importance of staying abreast of developments in foreign technology. If the Goal 3 vehicle does not quite achieve the triple-level fuel economy but approaches the cost and performance objectives, it should still be far more fuel efficient than current vehicles, which would be an outstanding achievement.
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.2 In general, government funding for PNGV is primarily used for the development of long-term, high-risk technologies. Funding by USCAR and industry is generally used for the development of technologies with nearer term commercial potential, the implementation of government technology developments into automotive applications, and the production of 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 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, 1998, 1999). Technical oversight and coordination are the responsibilities of a vehicle-engineering team, which provides the technical teams with vehicle-system requirements supported by the systems-analysis team.
At the inception of the program, several milestones were established: a technology selection in 1997; concept vehicles in 2000; and production prototypes in 2004. At the end of 1997, 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, such as gas turbines, Stirling engines, ultracapacitors for energy storage, and flywheels for energy storage, were eliminated as leading
candidates. In its fourth review, the committee agreed with PNGV’s technology selections (e.g., four-stroke, internal-combustion engines, fuel cells, batteries, power electronics, and structural materials). The four-stroke compression ignition direct injection (CIDI or diesel) engine is the primary power plant with the potential to meet the fuel economy goals within the time frame of the program; the fuel cell power plant is considered a longer range technology. After the technology selection process, PNGV was able to concentrate its resources on fewer technologies with the intent of defining, developing, and constructing concept vehicles by 2000 and production prototypes by 2004 (PNGV, 1995). Using PNGV-developed technologies and their own in-house proprietary technologies, the USCAR companies each developed separate concept vehicles (see Chapter 4). Thus, the program as a whole will not design or build a joint 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, 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); emission control systems; efficient electrical and electronic systems; and systems to recover and utilize exhaust energy and braking energy.
SCOPE OF REVIEW
The 15-member committee that conducted this sixth review of PNGV had a wide variety of expertise (see Appendix A for biographical information). The committee was asked to address the following tasks in this review:
In light of the PNGV program technical goals and previous NRC Standing Committee recommendations, examine and comment on the overall balance and adequacy of the PNGV research effort, the rate of progress, and the technical objectives and schedules for each of the major technology areas (i.e., fuel cells, 4-stroke direct injection engines and emissions control, power electronics and electrical systems [electric drive], energy storage, and structural materials).
In light of the proposed emission requirements for the 2004–2010 time period, examine and comment on the ongoing fuels, propulsion engine, and emission control research efforts to identify and develop commercially viable very low emission (e.g., California LEV-2 and anticipated EPA Tier 2 standards) propulsion systems based on fuel cells and 4-stroke direct injection engines.
If invited by DaimlerChrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, or General Motors Corporation, committee subgroups will review each of the company’s technology application, vehicle integration, and supporting advanced manufacturing technology efforts directed at the year 2000 PNGV concept vehicles.
The conclusions and recommendations in this report are based on the committee’s meetings, presentations, and other data-gathering activities (see Appendix C). 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).
Opinions of the goals of any program are bound to differ. Some think the PNGV time frame should be longer to allow for the maturation of some longer range technologies; some think the goals should be to reduce the combined emissions of greenhouse gases rather than fuel economy. As the committee has noted in previous reports, these reviews were based on the vision, goals, and target dates for PNGV articulated by the president and the R&D programs that have been launched (NRC, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999). Assuming that PNGV partners will seriously pursue the objectives of the program, the committee understands its role as providing independent advice to help PNGV achieve its goals. Therefore, the committee has tried to identify actions that could enhance the program’s chances for success and has 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 the development of manufacturing capabilities for the advanced automotive technologies being considered for the Goal 3 vehicle. The goals are summarized in the updated PNGV Technical Roadmap (PNGV, 1999a).
Because regulations and the market continue to change, however, the committee believes that PNGV should periodically reassess its objectives, especially in light of the negative impact the new emissions standards (i.e., the Tier 2 emissions standards) may have on the success of the program. The final regulations for Tier 2 standards announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on December 21, 1999, greatly increase the development challenge and risk for the CIDI engine, the primary power plant now under consideration, to meet the fuel economy goal of 80 mpg in PNGV’s time frame. Alternative power plants that could meet the PNGV 2004 time frame would probably result in vehicles with a lower fuel economy (see Chapter 5 for further discussion).