FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership Given “Thumbs Up” Review Plus Support for Multiple Technologies R&D


SOUTHFIELD, Mich., July 1, 2010 – In its third report on the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership (FC&FP), the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies commended the Partnership’s government/industry joint technical teams as important and effective in pursuing sustainable automotive transportation solutions. The report also called for an even greater blend of near- and long-term research and development to urgently address the nation’s transportation needs.

In its “Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership, Third Report,” the NRC Committee on Review of the FC&FP said the Partnership structure is “an effective means of identifying high-priority, long-term pre-competitive research needs while also addressing societal needs such as reducing petroleum dependence and greenhouse gas production.”

It also said that while some research areas still face “very substantial barriers,” the Partnership is effectively advancing the science to benefit the American people. “The Partnership is effective in progressing toward its goals” and has provided “evidence of solid progress in essentially all areas,” the report states.

Since its formation in 2002, the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership has grown from its initial collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the United States Council for Automotive Research LLC (USCAR) to include five energy providers (in 2003) and two utilities (in 2008). While there has been considerable R&D on hydrogen fuel-related technologies, including production and storage, automotive fuel cells, codes and standards, and infrastructure for the longer term, the Partnership also has been accelerating improvements in internal combustion engine efficiencies, vehicle lightweighting, and advances in hybrid-electric (HEV), plug-in hybrid-electric (PHEV) and battery-electric vehicle (BEV) technologies.

Noting that budgetary support for hydrogen and automotive fuel cell R&D has at times waivered amid other near-term objectives, the committee reinforced the importance of hydrogen vehicle research, calling it “an appropriate strategy,” and recommending hydrogen and automotive fuel cell programs “remain in a balanced R&D portfolio of different options.”

Supporting multiple technologies R&D, and recognizing the continued importance of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in the foreseeable future, the committee recommended the Partnership’s Advanced Combustion and Emissions Control (ACEC) Technical Team maintain active ICE and related alternative fuels R&D. It also called for intensified efforts in the Partnership’s energy storage (advanced batteries) and power electronics R&D for vehicle electrification; development of system-analysis methodology to accelerate cost-effective vehicle lightweighting; enhanced recycling R&D for batteries and carbon-reinforced composites; plus a broader scope for the Fuel Pathways Integration Technical Team, to provide cross-functional representation and overall perspective for the Partnership’s three main focus areas:

  • Improving ICE vehicles, coupled with greater use of biofuels;
  • Shifting significant portions of transportation energy from petroleum to the grid through expanded use of PHEVs and BEVs; and
  • Transitioning to hydrogen as a major transportation fuel utilized in fuel cell vehicles.

“We appreciate the NRC’s positive evaluation of the Partnership and its recognition of government/industry collaboration as a key enabler to helping our nation achieve energy security,” said newly appointed USCAR Executive Director Steve Zimmer. “The Partnership is advancing the R&D needed to provide near- and long-term sustainable transportation alternatives for consumers, while reducing our dependence on imported oil and minimizing emissions.”

Each year, the Partnership publishes its prior year highlights of technical accomplishments in an annual report. The 2009 report highlights 61 accomplishments from among hundreds. The full report may be viewed on the USCAR website at

The FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership includes the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), USCAR – whose members are Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Company; five major energy companies – BP America, Chevron Corporation, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Corporation and Shell Hydrogen (U.S.); and two utilities – DTE Energy and Southern California Edison. In addition, a large number of businesses, suppliers, national laboratories and universities participate in the research.

The NRC’s full review of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership is available on the National Academies’ website at

Founded in 1992, USCAR is the collaborative automotive technology organization for Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Company. The goal of USCAR is to further strengthen the technology base of the domestic auto industry through cooperative research and development. The FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership represents a significant part of its research portfolio.

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