Date:  Jan. 23, 2013




U.S. DRIVE Technical Teams Conducting Excellent Work,

But Partnership Lacks Direction From Leadership


WASHINGTON -- A new report from the National Research Council calls the operation and management of the technical teams of U.S. DRIVE generally "exemplary," but finds that its Executive Steering Group has not provided adequate guidance for fitting the technical teams' work into an overall plan for the partnership's goals of reduced petroleum use.  The public-private partnership has made steady progress in creating viable alternatives to gas-powered vehicles, but formidable technical barriers have prevented the emergence of a stand-out contender to replace petroleum. 


U.S. DRIVE is a government-industry partnership conducting precompetitive research and development to help accelerate the emergence of advanced technologies for clean and efficient light-duty vehicles that could eventually compete commercially with petroleum vehicles.  The partnership participants include four automotive companies, five energy companies, two electric power companies, and the Electric Power Research Institute, with the U.S. Department of Energy providing federal leadership.  The partnership has determined three potential primary pathways to reaching significantly reduced petroleum consumption: improved internal combustion engine vehicles coupled with greater use of biofuels and natural gas in conventional or hybrid vehicles; expanded use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles; and the possible transition to hydrogen as a transportation fuel.  Nine technical teams, including those on hydrogen storage, grid interaction, and combustion and emissions control, focus on specific research needed to make any or all of the pathways a commercial possibility.


As in previous Research Council reviews of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership -- predecessor of U.S. DRIVE -- the report finds the operation and management of the technical teams and the integration of the systems analysis functions within those teams to be exemplary for the most part, and provides recommendations in specific technical areas.  However, it is not apparent that critical issues being investigated by the technical teams are guided and prioritized by an overall understanding of how these technical improvements affect larger program goals.  Without overarching guidance, there is a potential for conflict among the respective goals of the various technical teams.  It is imperative that the partnership's Executive Steering Group, Joint Operations Group, or other program decision-making groups continually broaden their understanding of these implications and adapt research plans to provide effective portfolio management.


The Executive Steering Group should set targets for the technical teams that are consistent with the objectives of reduced petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and U.S. DRIVE should conduct a comprehensive review of the partnership's portfolio, the report says.  Focusing on the mission of supporting longer-term, higher-risk precompetitive activities in all three potential primary pathways, the review will ensure that research and development efforts are adequate and appropriate to achieve the targets.  The report also recommends adopting a portfolio-based research and development strategy to balance the investment among alternative pathways with more traditional reviews of the individual pathways' progress.


The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.  The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.  They are private, independent nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter.  The Research Council is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.  For more information, visit  A committee roster follows.



Lorin Hancock, Media Relations Officer

Shaquanna Shields, Media Relations Assistant

Office of News and Public Information

202-334-2138; e-mail



Pre-publication copies of Review of the U.S. DRIVE Research Program, Phase 4 are available from the National Academies Press on the Internet at or by calling tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242.  Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).

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Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

Board on Energy and Environmental Systems


Committee on Review of the U.S. DRIVE Research Program, Phase 4


Vernon P. Roan (chair)


Center for Advanced Studies in Engineering, and


University of Florida (retired)



R. Stephen Berry1

James Franck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus

Gordon Center for Integrative Studies

Department of Chemistry and James Franck Institute

University of Chicago


David L. Bodde

Senior Fellow and Professor

Clemson University

Clemson, S.C.


Kathryn R. Bullock

President and Founder
Coolohm Inc.
Blue Bell, Pa.

Dennis A. Corrigan
Founder and President
D.C. Energy Consulting LLC
Troy, Mich.


Glenn A. Eisman
Adjunct Professor
Materials Science and Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and
Managing Partner
H2Pump LLC
Niskayuna, N.Y.


W. Robert Epperly
Independent Consultant
Mountain View, Calif.

David E. Foster
Myers Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Engine Research Center
University of Wisconsin


Gerald Gabrielse1

Leverett Professor of Physics
Department of Physics
Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.


Linos J. Jacovides2


Delphi Research Labs (retired)
Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.


Harold Hing Chuen Kung

Professor of Chemical Engineering and Director
Center for Energy Efficient Transportation
Northwestern University
Evanston, Ill.


Gene Nemanich

Vice President

Hydrogen Systems

Chevron Technology Ventures (retired)

Scottsdale, Ariz.


Robert J. Nowak

Independent Consultant

Rehoboth Beach, Del.


Bernard I. Robertson2

Senior Vice President

Engineering Technologies and Regulatory Affairs, and

General Manager

DaimlerChrysler Corp. (retired)
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.


Constantine Samaras

Associate Engineer
RAND Corp.


R. Rhoads Stephenson

Independent Consultant
La Canada, Calif.


Kathleen C. Taylor2

Director of Materials and Processes Laboratory

General Motors Corp. (retired)
Falmouth, Mass.


Brijesh Vyas

Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff

Bell Labs

LGS Innovations
Florham Park, N.J.




James Zucchetto

Study Director



1      Member, National Academy of Sciences

2      Member, National Academy of Engineering