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Advanced Vehicles – Technical Potential and Costs

This chapter discusses the potential for advanced light-duty vehicles that are capable of very high levels of fuel efficiency and excellent emissions performance, to be introduced during the next 10 to 20 years. The focus of this analysis is on mass-market vehicles (e.g., those produced in volumes of over 100,000 per year) because major reductions in U.S. oil use and vehicle emissions can be achieved only by drastically improving this class of vehicles.

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As discussed below, the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) chose to focus on “fill service” advanced vehicles that have comparable performance to conventional vehicles, rather than limited service or specialty vehicles that might be suitable for certain market niches (e.g., delivery vans, city-only commuter vehicles). The only exception to this is OTA’s consideration of battery electric vehicles (EVs), which are certain to have a more limited range than conventional cars, at least for the next 10 to 15 years.

Technical Potential

Even in the EV case, however, the vehicles are required to have peak power (for acceleration) and continuous power (for grade climbing or other longterm, high-load conditions) comparable to conventional vehicles. This comparable performance requirement implies larger electric motors and energy storage devices than are assumed in some other analyses, and may explain, at least in part, why OTA’s price estimates are higher than those made by some other sources.

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By relaxing the power requirements, which are somewhat arbitrary, significant cost reductions can be achieved, making the “advanced” vehicles more price-competitive with conventional vehicles.

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OTA’s Methodology

  • OTA and its contractors gathered data for its analysis from several sources:
  • a wide-ranging review of the literature, including papers given at recent conferences on automotive technology;
  • a series of detailed interviews with the research and technical staffs of eleven auto manufacturers;
  • l interviews with a range of manufacturers and researchers of advanced technologies;
  • And published data on the fuel economy performance of existing commercial vehicles.Read More About:
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