April 25, 2017


U.S. DRIVE Partnership Makes Significant Technology Advancements for Light-Duty Vehicles; Lack of Infrastructure for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Remains a Challenge   

WASHINGTON – The U.S. DRIVE  Partnership – a government-industry partnership that fosters the development of precompetitive and innovative technologies for clean and efficient light-duty vehicles – has made significant progress in many technical areas including advanced combustion technologies, durability and cost of hydrogen fuel cells, and electric drive systems such as motors, power electronics, and batteries, says a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  However, high costs for essentially all the technologies under development and lack of a hydrogen fuel infrastructure for deployment of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles remain challenges.

The partnership includes three 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 committee that conducted the study and wrote the report said the partnership is well-managed and has an increasingly robust consensus-building process for developing goals and targets and for providing guidance and input to DOE. 

Foreign automakers are offering a small number of fuel cell vehicles to the general public, and one U.S. DRIVE member is anticipating a rollout of its fuel cell vehicles in 2020.  The cars are now in the late stages of development, an accomplishment in part due to R&D coordination by the partnership as well as from decades of funding of pertinent research by DOE and partnership members, the committee said.

Based on the recommendations from the Academies’ review carried out in 2012, the new report says U.S. DRIVE’s recently established cradle-to-grave (C2G) working group is a major step forward for the partnership to provide guidance to the industry and DOE on program and policy choices. This C2G capability provides analyses of vehicles from production to recycling to better understand total energy consumption, emissions, and the environmental impact of various energy and vehicle pathways and technologies. The partnership also established a target setting task force for identifying technical and cost targets.

Since the previous Academies review, several trends are emerging that could have strategic implications for the partnership including the rapid increase in domestic oil production, numerous offerings of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) entering or expected to enter the marketplace, an acceleration of technologies for connected and autonomous vehicles, and the rapid proliferation of personal mobility models such as ride sharing and car sharing that could contribute to U.S. DRIVE goals. 

The report recommends that the Executive Steering Group of the partnership identify appropriate changes to reflect the impact of new personal mobility models, shrinking opportunities to achieve aggressive greenhouse gas goals, the transition of many candidate technologies into the marketplace, and the significant challenges in providing a hydrogen infrastructure, while retaining a focus on precompetitive technology enablers.

The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.  The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine.  They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.  For more information, visit http://national-academies.org.  A roster follows.


Riya V. Anandwala, Media Relations Officer
Joshua Blatt, Media Relations Assistant
Office of News and Public Information
202-334-2138; e-mail news@nas.edu

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Copies of Review of the Research Program of the U.S. DRIVE Partnership are available at www.nap.edu or by calling 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).


Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
Committee on Review of the Research Program of the U.S. DRIVE Partnership, Phase 5


John H. Johnson (chair)
Presidential Professor Emeritus
Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Michigan Technological University

Alexis T. Bell1,2
Dow Professor of Sustainable Chemistry, and
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
University of California

David L. Bodde
Senior Fellow and Professor
Department of Automotive Engineering
Clemson University
Clemson, S.C.

Nady Boules
NB Motors LLC
Troy, Mich.

Glenn A. Eisman
Adjunct Professor
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and
Principal Partner
Eisman Technology Consultants
Bailey Island, Maine

David E. Foster
Phil and Jean Myers Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering
Engine Research Center
University of Wisconsin

Matthew Fronk
Matt Fronk and Associates LLC
Honeoye Falls, N.Y.

Robert J. Nowak
Independent Consultant
Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Bernard I. Robertson2
Retired Senior Vice President
Engineering Technologies and Regulatory Affairs, and
General Manager
Truck Operations
DaimlerChrysler Corp.
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

James A. Spearot
Mountain Ridgeline Consulting LLC
Breckenridge, Colo.

Satish Tamhankar
Technology Expert (retired)
Linde LLC
Scotch Plains, N.J.

Alan I. Taub2
Chief Technology Officer
LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow), and
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
College of Engineering
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor

Kathleen C. Taylor2
Director (retired)
Materials and Processes Laboratory
General Motors Co.
Falmouth, Mass.

Brijesh Vyas
Research and Development Scientist (retired)
Bell Laboratories
Lucent Technologies
Warren, N.J.


James J. Zucchetto
Staff Officer

1 Member, National Academy of Sciences
2 Member, National Academy of Engineering