WASHINGTON (Aug. 16, 2001)—The goal of a government/industry task force to develop by 2004 an affordable family vehicle that gets 80 miles to the gallon probably can't be achieved, according to a new report from the National Research Council.
General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler Corp.—the auto industry partners in the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles—have all developed 80-mpg concept cars, the report noted, and there have been “a number of significant technical successes to date.” But the concept vehicles are priced out of most families' reach, and the “radically better” emissions technology required by federally mandated “Tier 2” emissions controls will only add to the expense.
“The committee believes that no reasonable amount of funding would ensure achievement of…80 mpg, the first definition of (PNGV) success, and that has been clear for some time,” the report stated. “Breakthrough ideas and talented people are more stringent constraints than money to achieving this goal.”
Primary goals of the PNGV appear to be the application of the technologies it develops to production vehicles and development of further improvements in fuel-efficient technology beyond 2004, the report stated. “However, no clearly stated objectives have been announced by the PGNV,” it added. “This deficiency needs to be corrected before a meaningful external assessment of the adequacy and balance of the program can be made.”
The Clinton administration joined with the Big Three auto makers to form the PNGV in 1993. The auto industry has spent more than $980 million annually on the partnership in some years, the report stated. But the Bush administration seeks to reduce the PNGV funds in the fiscal 2002 Energy Department budget, to $100 million from $139 million, and wants the partnership to spread its research to technologies that can help increase fuel economy in all types of vehicles.