US research council urges revised goals for new auto development

The National Research Council Tuesday said the US should reevaluate its goals for the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, a joint venture of the government and automakers that seeks to improve auto vehicles built in the US.


By the OGJ Online Staff

WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 14 -- The National Research Council Tuesday said the US should reevaluate its goals for a program that seeks to improve auto vehicles built in the US.

The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles is a joint venture of the government and automakers.

Energy Sec. Spencer Abraham said Tuesday he was pleased that the report recommended changes that would give automakers more flexibility to meet marketplace demands.

Abraham said, "The current goals of the PNGV program include production prototypes for an 80 mpg sedan by 2004. Since roughly half of the light duty vehicle sales in the US are sport utility vehicles, vans, and pickup trucks, the PNGV program is out of step with markets and consumer demand. This spring I suggested a need for a thorough program reevaluation. I'm pleased that the scientists reviewing the PNGV research program share this view."

The NRC report concluded, "No reasonable amount of funding would ensure achievement" of the program's 80-mpg goal and "the priorities and specific goals of the PNGV program should be reexamined ... in the context of current and prospective markets."

The report noted that US demand for SUVs, vans, and pickups has grown significantly. "This has increased the importance of reducing the fuel consumption of these vehicles compared to the typical family sedan.

"If the program goal were refocused on reducing total new light duty vehicles petroleum consumption, this would encourage the emphasis to be placed on those vehicles that offer the greatest potential for achieving this societal goal."

Abraham noted that the NRC report praised the fact the PNGV "program has overcome many challenges and forged a productive partnership with industry."

The US Council for Automotive Research operates the PNGV program, a partnership of the US government, DaimlerChrysler Corp., Ford Motor Co., and General Motors Corp.

It was designed to develop a new generation of auto vehicles with up to three times the fuel efficiency of conventional cars without compromising performance, affordability, safety, utility, or emissions control.

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