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Press Releases :: March 24, 2009

Subcommittee Examines DOE’s Vehicle Technology R&D Programs To Ensure Industry and Public Needs Are Met

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment held a hearing to review the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Vehicle Technologies research and development (R&D) programs. Specifically, Subcommittee Members questioned witnesses on the program funding levels and proposals for programmatic changes to meet a changing market and public needs.

“We need to break our addiction to foreign oil. For too long, the American people have been held hostage by the fluctuating costs of fossil fuels. We must continue to look for new ideas in passenger and commercial vehicle technologies for the sake of our economy and our planet,” said Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA).

DOE’s Vehicle Technologies program’s mission is to develop technologies that provide Americans with greater freedom of mobility and energy security, while also minimizing costs and the environmental footprint. For over two decades this program has funded many research activities focusing on passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks, such as the 21st Century Truck Partnership (21CTP) and the FreedomCar and the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative Programs.

In 2000, DOE launched the 21CTP to explore technology improvements in commercial and military trucks and busses. 21CTP is composed of three agencies – Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. As a public-private research program, 21CTP’s goal is to combine federal, industry, and academic resources to develop a balanced portfolio of heavy-duty truck research activities. Increasing efficiency of trucks has a large impact because trucks make up a significant portion of fuel use and will likely surpass passenger car fuel use within the next few decades.

FreedomCar, a public-private research program, was established as a collaborative effort between DOE, energy companies, and the U.S. Council for Automotive Research (USCAR) partners. Since its launch in 2003, the FreedomCar has primarily focused on R&D for hydrogen-powered passenger vehicles. This Hydrogen Fuel initiative aims to help industry create affordable hydrogen-powered cars within the next 10 to 15 years.

“As stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars it is our responsibility to continually assess these programs and ensure that research activities are both relevant to the industry’s needs for commercially-viable technologies, and appropriate to the government’s role in exploratory research in areas that industry partners would not be able to pursue on their own,” stated Baird.

For more information, please visit the Committee’s website.

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