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Vice President Gore: A Research Initiative for 21st Century Trucks

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Vice President Gore: A Research Initiative for 21st Century Trucks

April 21, 2000

Vice President Gore and senior executives from many of the nation's largest manufacturers of trucks, buses, and truck equipment today launched an initiative to cut fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions of delivery vehicles by 2/3 and cut the fuel use of 18 wheelers in half, while improving the safety and efficiency of the nation's trucking industry.

This public-private partnership focuses on the heavier vehicles the nation depends on to move freight, and complements the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) -- a program that has already resulted in revolutionary breakthroughs in technologies for autos and light trucks. By cutting fuel costs and increasing safety, the research conducted under the 21st Century Truck Initiative will make the U.S. trucking industry more financially sound, make our economy more energy independent, and help meet such environmental challenges as global warming and other air pollution. The initiative will also benefit the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army -- major participants in the partnership -- by dramatically cutting operational support costs and increasing combat effectiveness.

Aggressive Goals. Trucking will remain a backbone of the American economy in the 21st century, as the nation becomes increasingly dependent on express delivery and just-in-time inventory shipments. The 21st Century Truck Initiative is designed to develop revolutionary new technologies for increasing the fuel economy and safety of four classes of vehicles which, together, account for more than 90% of all fuel used by U.S. trucks, helping to insulate the industry from potential future price increases. The program's cost-share investments in advanced technologies is designed to produce, within 10 years, manufacturing-ready "production prototypes." Compared to today's vehicles, these prototypes will:

  • Triple the fuel economy (measured in ton-miles/gallon) of heavy pickups, large delivery vans, and full-sized passenger buses;

  • Double fuel economy for 18-wheeler long-haul trucks;

  • Improve safety (technologies will be designed to cut truck fatalities in half);

  • Achieve superior operational performance and lower costs for truckers; and

  • Exceed expected emission requirements for 2010 (likely to be much more stringent than today's standards).

Multiple Benefits for the Economy, the Environment, National Security and Safety. Trucks currently account for more than one-third of all U.S. emissions from highway vehicles that cause local air pollution. Meeting the President's goals will mean:

  • Major reductions in fuel use, leading to greater U.S. energy independence;

  • Major reductions in the greenhouse gas emissions most scientists believe are contributing to global warming;<

  • Improved safety on U.S. highways;

  • Continued competitiveness of U.S. truck manufacturers and the U.S. trucking industry (productivity gains should also translate into lower costs for consumers);

  • Major reductions in emissions of NOx, particulates, and other local air pollutants; and

  • Increased flexibility and speed for U.S. military operations worldwide.

Increased Federal Investment. The President's FY2001 budget proposes $47 million in increased spending in areas supporting 21st Century Truck research, for a total of $142 million--a 48% increase.

Industry and Government: Developing 21st Century Technologies. Industry and Government will cost-share research over the full range of areas normally associated with the trucking industry. These include:

  • advanced propulsion technology, with a focus on advanced diesel engine, hybrid electric, fuel cell, and advanced drivetrain technologies;
    fuels, with a focus on clean burning fuels that are adaptable to the full range of propulsion sources;

  • advanced materials, with a focus on the optimized use of materials like high strength steels, aluminum, magnesium, and composites;
    vehicle intelligence, with a focus on advanced communication and early warning technologies, vehicle diagnostics and prognostics;

  • advancements in vehicle designs to reduce aerodynamic drag, with a focus also on reducing other forms of parasitic losses like rolling resistance; and,
    safety, with a focus on the driver-environment, driver-hardware and hardware-environment areas.

A Research Plan and Technology Roadmap to focus and prioritize investment opportunities will be developed over the next several months by Government and Industry partners, with assistance from the academic community. A successful Research Plan/Technology Roadmap is dependent on an awareness and inventory of current research and technology programs, an understanding of the limitations of current research and technology, the technical barriers to be overcome, and a vision of potential future technologies. The Research Plan/Technology Roadmap will be continuously refined throughout the lifetime of the program.

A World Class Team. The new partnership links many of the nation's largest manufacturers of trucks and truck components with research teams in four federal agencies: the Departments of Defense (represented by the U.S. Army), Energy, Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Industrial participants are: Mack Trucks, Oshkosh Trucks, Paccar, Volvo Trucks North America, Cummins Engine Company, Caterpillar, Detroit Diesel Corporation, Eaton Corporation and Lockheed Martin Control Systems. The partnership creates a unique critical mass of practical experience in truck production, scientific and engineering expertise, and research facilities with capabilities in the wide range of areas critical to the program's success.

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Vice President Gore: A Research Initiative for 21st Century Trucks