As the world’s largest automobile markets, the United States and China lead the world in oil consumption, importing more than half the petroleum they consume. The CERC-Clean Vehicles Consortium seeks to reduce this oil consumption by supporting the joint research of the nations’ leading experts in clean vehicle technologies. The University of Michigan’s Prof. Huei Peng and Tsinghua University’s Prof. Minggao Ouyang lead this effort.
If EVs are critical to significantly reducing or eliminating carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles over the next three decades – and I believe they are – we need to think about ways to appeal to desires and interests not only of consumers, but of public and private institutions with a stake in our energy and transportation systems. In short, we should extol EVs not for their low-carbon virtue, but as a way to create and to satisfy demand in both the electricity and transportation sectors.
American consumers have been enjoying Christmas since July – that is, July 2014, when the average price for all grades of gasoline peaked at US$3.75 per gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration. Since then, prices have declined substantially, as every motorist knows: to $2.90 by Thanksgiving 2014 and to $2.14 as we approach the end of 2015. In many parts of the country, the price of regular gasoline is well below $2 per gallon today.
On November 30, as the Paris international climate conference was getting underway, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a long-overdue update of Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements. Originally established in 2005 and then greatly expanded by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the RFS mandates increasing use of ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels in America's cars and trucks.
The first North American roads were foot trails- trails that widened, with the centuries, to accommodate horses and then teams. A horse and wagon traveled at an average speed of four miles per hour. Our average travel speed has changed a bit since then, yet many of those same trails- made to offer the least resistance possible for animals two-legged and four- now carry millions of Americans to their destinations. Builders, policy experts, and others who plan and study transportation systems must literally build the future on top of the past.
Held in the heart of the nation's automotive industry, leading researchers and members of the automotive, energy, and regulatory communities debate key transportation fuel-economy and emissions issues in the current economic and policy landscape.
The light-duty vehicle fleet is expected to undergo substantial technological changes over the next several decades. New powertrain designs, alternative fuels, advanced materials and significant changes to the vehicle body are being driven by increasingly stringent fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards. By the end of the next decade, cars and light-duty trucks will be more fuel efficient, weigh less, emit less air pollutants, have more safety features, and will be more expensive to purchase relative to current vehicles. Though the gasoline-powered spark ignition engine will continue to be the dominant powertrain configuration even through 2030, such vehicles will be equipped with advanced technologies, materials, electronics and controls, and aerodynamics. And by 2030, the deployment of alternative methods to propel and fuel vehicles and alternative modes of transportation, including autonomous vehicles, will be well underway. What are these new technologies - how will they work, and will some technologies be more effective than others?