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Date: June 3, 2010
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Alison Burnette, Media Relations Assistant
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New Technologies Can Result in Significant Fuel Savings for Passenger Vehicles, But at Higher Purchase Prices for Consumers
"Reducing the amount of fuel we use is an important goal for the nation and for the individual consumer," said Trevor O. Jones, chair of the committee that wrote the report and chair and CEO of ElectroSonics Medical Inc., Cleveland. "These technologies – whether adopted individually or in combination – offer the potential to meet that objective. Consumers will need to consider the trade-offs between higher vehicle prices and saving fuel and money at the gas pump."
The committee was not charged with determining how long it would take for money saved on fuel purchases to offset higher vehicle prices; this analysis will be conducted by regulatory agencies as they develop standards for light-duty vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions.
Using a 2007 base vehicle, the committee estimated the potential fuel savings and costs to consumers of available technology combinations for three types of engines: spark-ignition gasoline, compression-ignition (CI) diesel, and hybrid. According to its estimates, adopting the full combination of improved technologies in medium and large cars and pickup trucks with spark-ignition engines could reduce fuel consumption by 29 percent at an additional cost of $2,200 to the consumer. Replacing spark-ignition engines with diesel engines and components would yield fuel savings of about 37 percent at an added cost of approximately $5,900 per vehicle, and replacing spark-ignition engines with hybrid engines and components would reduce fuel consumption by 43 percent at an increase of $6,000 per vehicle.
The committee's estimates are based on a variety of factors including recent reports from regulatory agencies and other sources, component cost estimates from suppliers, discussions with experts, and comparisons of prices and fuel consumption of similar vehicles. Estimated price increases are based on current economic conditions and the concept of "incremental retail price equivalent (RPE) cost," which represents the average additional price consumers would pay for a fuel economy technology.
The report focuses on fuel consumption – the amount of fuel consumed in a given driving distance – because energy savings are directly related to the amount of fuel used. In contrast, fuel economy measures how far a vehicle will travel with a gallon of fuel. Because fuel consumption data indicate money saved on fuel purchases and reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, vehicle stickers should provide consumers with fuel consumption data in addition to fuel economy information, the report says.
Also, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should review and revise fuel economy test procedures so they better reflect vehicle operating conditions and provide incentives to manufacturers to reduce fuel consumption. The report identifies an improved method that NHTSA and EPA should use to more accurately estimate a technology's ability to reduce fuel consumption.
Engines and Technologies
Spark-ignition engines – which will continue to be the dominant type of engine in the
Engines that run on diesel fuel may become more popular in the
Hybrid vehicle technologies are one of the most active areas of research and development. The degree of hybridization can vary from minor vehicle stop-start systems to complete vehicle redesign. A fully hybrid vehicle could reduce fuel consumption by about 50 percent at an estimated price increase of up to $9,000 a vehicle depending on vehicle size. The report notes that a significant part of reducing fuel consumption in full hybrids results from complete vehicle redesign that incorporates low-rolling-resistance tires, improved aerodynamics, and smaller, more efficient spark-ignition engines.
Hybrid vehicle improvements in the next 10 to 15 years will occur primarily in reducing costs of hybrid power train components and improving battery performance. While many challenges remain in developing lithium-ion battery technology, small, limited-range battery electric vehicles will be on the market in the next decade, the committee predicted. However, fuel-cell vehicles will not represent a significant fraction of light-duty vehicles on the road in the next 15 years.
The report also examines a range of non-engine vehicle technologies. Relatively minor changes that do not involve re-engineering the vehicle or require recertification for fuel economy, emissions, or safety can be implemented within the next several years. They include reducing vehicle mass by using lighter materials, improving aerodynamics, or switching to low-rolling-resistance tires. Two important areas of research for long-range improvements include transmission systems and light-weighting – making vehicles very light with new materials under development.
The study was sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering,
Copies of Assessment of Fuel Economy Technologies for Light-Duty Vehicles are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).
[ This news release and report are available at http://national-academies.org ]
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
Board on Energy and Environmental Systems
Committee on the Assessment of Technologies for Improving Light-Duty Vehicle Fuel Economy
Trevor O. Jones* (chair)
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
ElectroSonics Medical Inc.
Thomas W. Asmus*
Senior Research Executive
DaimlerChrysler Corp. (retired)
Rodica A. Baranescu*
Fuels and Lubricants Engine Group
President and Director
Center for Automotive Research
Manufacturing, Engineering, and Technology Group
Clean Vehicles Program
David L. Greene
Linos J. Jacovides
Delphi Research Laboratories (retired)
John H. Johnson
Presidential Professor Emeritus
Department of Mechanical Engineering
John G. Kassakian*
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Roger B. Krieger
Gary W. Rogers
President and Chief Executive Officer
Robert F. Sawyer*
Department of Mechanical Engineering
K. John Holmes