Advanced Automotive Technology: Visions of a Super-Efficient Family Car Page: III
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T his report presents the results of the Office of Technology Assessment's
analysis of the prospects for developing automobiles that offer significant
improvements in fuel economy and reduced emissions over the longer term
(out to the year 2015). The congressional request for this study-from the
House Committees on Commerce and on Science, and the Senate Committees on
Energy and Natural Resources and on Governmental Affairs-asked OTA to exam-
ine the potential for dramatic increases in light-duty vehicle fuel economy through
the use of "breakthrough" technologies, and to assess the federal role in advancing
the development and commercialization of these technologies.
The report examines the likely costs and performance of a range of technologies
and vehicle types, and the U.S. and foreign research and development programs for
these technologies and vehicles (to allow completion of this study before OTA
closed its doors, issues such as infrastructure development and market develop-
ment---critical to the successful commercialization of advanced vehicles-were not
covered). In particular, the report presents a baseline forecast of vehicle progress in
a business-as-usual environment, and then projects the costs and performance of
"advanced conventional" vehicles that retain conventional drivetrains (internal
combustion engine plus transmission); electric vehicles: hybrid vehicles that com-
bine electric drivetrains with an engine or other power source; and fuel cell vehi-
cles. OTA has focused on mass-market vehicles, particularly on the mid-size family
car with performance comparable to those available to consumers today. Based on
our analysis, OTA is quite optimistic that very high levels of fuel economy-up to
three times current averages-are technically achievable by 2015; attaining these
levels at a commercially viable price will be a more difficult challenge, however.
This report is the last in a series on light-duty vehicles that OTA has produced
over the past five years. Previous topics include alternative fuels (Replacing Gaso-
line. Alternative Fuels for Light-Duty Vehicles); near-term prospects for improving
fuel economy (Improving Automobile Fuel Economy: New Standards, New
Approaches); and vehicle retirement programs (Retiring Old Cars, Programs To
Save Gasoline and Improve Air Quality). OTA also has recently published a more
general report on reducing oil use in transportation (Saving Energy in U.S. Trans-
OTA is grateful to members of its Advisory Panel, participants in workshops on
vehicle safety and technology, other outside reviewers, and the many individuals
and companies that offered information and advice and hosted OTA staff on their
information-gathering trips. Special thanks are due to K.G. Duleep, who provided
the bulk of the technical and cost analysis of technologies and advanced vehicles.
ROGER C. HERDMAN
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United States. Congress. Office of Technology Assessment. Advanced Automotive Technology: Visions of a Super-Efficient Family Car, report, September 1995; [Washington D.C.]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc39778/m1/2/: accessed October 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.