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DOE Research Strategy: Mid- and Long-Term Petroleum Savings
Published October 16, 2006 by Convergence Transportation Electronics Association in United States
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Event: Convergence 2006
The Federal Government has long played a research and development role in automotive powertrains, from both an energy and environmental perspective.
Historically, this role has been a long-term, high-risk one, so that the Government would not interfere in the marketplace with near-term technology. Instead, it would undertake promising research with such inherently high risk that industry alone would not pursue. When we undertook hybrid vehicle research in the early 1990s, it was of general consensus that hybridization combined the worst attributes of both the electric and mechanical drivetrains. However, the government powertrain research helped dramatically change the automotive world. Ten hybrid models were available to consumers as of 2005, and a dozen more are expected to be available by 2008. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is continuing to focus on long-term, high-risk research. Fuel cell vehicles are perhaps the most visible example. And while fuel cell research is indeed long-term, many of the technologies that will be needed in fuel cell vehicles will appear in mid-term, high fuel economy vehicles. DOE research with the auto industry addresses advanced batteries, power electronics, electric motors and generators, combustion and emissions, advanced fuels, and light-weight materials. Research success in these areas will result in products that could appear for sale in the 2010-2015 timeframe and later contribute to fuel cell vehicle success. While each company will determine the mix of technologies that suit its business case, all have indicated the critical role domestic suppliers of advanced technologies will play in moving these components from laboratory to showroom.