One thing sure to help the continued expansion of automotive innovation that focuses on greener outcomes is continued public/private partnerships.
The federal government has been a key player in this capacity for years, and now is making available nearly $50 million to “accelerate research and development of new vehicle technologies that give drivers and businesses more transportation options and protect the environment in communities nationwide.”
A large portion of this funding will include support for the U.S. Energy Department’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, which was a broad initiative launched in March 2012 that aimed to make plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) more affordable and easy to drive within the next decade. The support being offered in this go around will focus upon “a wide range of technologies that further cut fuel costs for drivers and help make vehicles more efficient and durable, including lightweighting materials; cost-effective batteries and power electronics; advanced heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; and improved fuels and lubricants.”
Thus far, with help in part from federal programs like this, U.S. automakers, universities and national laboratories reportedly have achieved significant advances in vehicle efficiency and electrification, including cutting the cost to manufacture advanced electric vehicle batteries by 50 percent over the last four years. Much of what’s been achieved in the growth of PEVs is talked about in a recently released report from the DOE [PDF], the highlights of which include:
“Today, the American auto industry is on the rise, experiencing the best period of growth in more than a decade,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in a statement. “The new research and development funding announced…will help support our domestic automakers’ continued growth and make sure that the next generation of advanced technology vehicles are built right here in America.”